Zaghari-Ratcliffe: hearing over £ 400 million in Iran's debt could speed up release | News

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The release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the Iranian-British woman held in a Tehran prison since 2016, could come even closer if a long-standing dispute over the British government's failure to pay a Debt of £ 400 million for I ran is resolved in this week's appeals court.

In a tweet, the Iranian ambassador to Britain said that a decades-long dispute between the UK and Iran over the size of the debt could be coming to an end, leaving the government with no excuse to postpone payment. The outlook can be optimistic, given the legal complexity surrounding the payment of the sale of tanks, and the legal restrictions that prevent the UK from avoiding sanctions against I ran.

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Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband Richard Ratcliffe is due to meet Boris Johnson on Thursday. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed for five years on espionage charges in 2016, which she denied.

The dispute concerns an Iranian payment in the 1970s for 1,500 Chieftain tanks and armored vehicles. The contracts were canceled after the shah's deposition in the 1979 revolution, but Iran had already paid for the undelivered tanks and demanded his money back.

Both sides have been fighting in court for the size of the debt, including whether interest is due.

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Despite strenuous official denials on both sides, non-payment of debt in the UK came to be seen as preventing the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The Iranian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Hamid Baeidinejad, tweeted: "The Court of Appeal must settle a small part of the outstanding debt". He added: "By assigning that small part, the legal process of the case is coming to an end. And there will be no excuse for the standard."

The appeals court is expected to hold a two-day hearing on Wednesday and Thursday on whether interest on the debt is due. Last year, the higher court in London, the UK did not have to pay interest on the debt due to EU sanctions legislation.

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The UK has set aside almost £ 500 million as collateral for the debt. International Military Services, then a subsidiary of the Ministry of Defense, said that even if the size of the debt is agreed by both sides, the UK cannot pay, as the Iranian Ministry of Defense has been subject to EU sanctions since 2008.

Before Ratcliffe's meeting with the Prime Minister, the UK ambassador to Iran, Robert Macaire, was supposed to meet with him and other British families of people arrested in Tehran as part of regular updates.


Richard Ratcliffe's determined struggle to free his Nazanin wife from an Iranian prison – video

The appeal court hearing was highlighted in the Iranian pro-government press this week, suggesting that there is an expectation that the case is coming to a conclusion.

Iran has asked that the debt be paid to its central bank, but the United Kingdom appears to be resisting this.

Ben Wallace, the defense secretary, who is also an Iranian expert, is believed to be looking for alternatives to repay the debt, including through humanitarian aid, such as food and medicine. Iranian officials are trying to find out if the UK considers this a serious option, and some officials may visit London to talk.

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