Inquiry to be held into Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori’s detention in Iran
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The Commons Foreign Committee said it would take evidence on how their cases were handled by government officials as part of a wider investigation into “state-level hostage situations”.
Both were released a fortnight ago and returned to the UK from Iran after payment of the £400million debt on the understanding the money was used for humanitarian purposes.
Following their return both have been critical of the failure of the Foreign Office (FCDO) to secure their freedom sooner.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe,44, was imprisoned for almost six years, while Mr Ashoori, 68, was held in Evin Prison for almost five years.
Announcing the inquiry, committee chairman Tom Tugendhat MP said their return was “long overdue” and that they were right to seek answers as to what happened.
“Iran is not the only country engaging in state hostage taking,” he said.
“The tactic is fast becoming a tool of choice for authoritarian states and recent high-profile cases have highlighted the challenges governments face when securing the release of hostages held captive by states.
“This inquiry will examine the support provided by the FCDO to hostages in recent cases, as well as take a look at the broader picture and ask how the government can clamp down on the practice internationally.”
The announcement of the inquiry was welcomed by Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s local MP, Tulip Siddiq, who was involved in the campaign for her release.
“The husband of Nazanin, Richard, and I have known since the start that Nazanin’s imprisonment was linked to the historic debt we owed to Iran, yet it was only after many years of pressure that this was finally resolved,” she said.
“While in Iran, Nazanin was blindfolded, handcuffed, interrogated and subjected to solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and torture.
“The government has serious questions to answer about why this was allowed to happen to an innocent British citizen, who was caught as a pawn in a political dispute between two countries.
“The inquiry should look at why the deal that the UK and Iran supposedly made in 2021 to resolve the debt and bring Nazanin home collapsed.”
Mr Tahbaz, who has British, American and Iranian citizenship, was arrested in 2018 during a crackdown on environmental activists.
Hopes had been raised that Mr Tahbaz would be released alongside Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Mr Ashoori.
However after being released on furlough for 48 hours, he was returned to Evin Prison where he now remains.