Update: After years in detention in Iran, two British-Iranian nationals are back in the UK. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori were released Wednesday and arrived home early Thursday, following months of negotiations between the UK and Iran, the BBC reports. In a photo shared by Ashoori's daughter, Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, can be seen at the airport holding her 7-year-old daughter. The charity worker had been accused of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government in 2016, while she was visiting family in Iran. Ashoori, 67, was accused of spying in 2017. The releases came after the UK settled a decades-old debt to Iran, per the AP, though officials have downplayed any link between the two things. A third detainee, Morad Tahbaz, was also freed from prison but has not yet been allowed to depart Iran. Our original story from May 2, 2021, follows:
Iran said through state media Sunday that the US has agreed to a deal in which prisoners would be freed in exchange for the release of $7 billion in its frozen assets. The US immediately said there's no such agreement. The reports "are not true," said State Department spokesman Ned Price, the Hill reports. "Unfortunately, that report is untrue," White House chief of staff Ron Klain said CBS' Face the Nation, adding that the US has been seeking the prisoners' freedom. "We raise this with Iran and our interlocutors all the time," Klain said. The state TV report had said the Biden administration had agreed to release four Iranian prisoners being held in the US in exchange for four American 'spies,'" per Reuters.
The report also said Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian national, would be freed once Britain had paid what it owes Iran for military equipment. "We recognize the IMS debt should be repaid, and we're looking at arrangements for securing that," Britain's foreign minister, Dominic Raab, said Sunday. She's jailed after being convicted in Iran of trying to overthrow the government, a charge her family and employer deny. Zaghari-Ratcliffe served five years for the conviction before a court added another year last week. Britain has called that inhumane. "I think she's been treated in the most abusive, tortuous way," Raab said. (Read more Iran stories.)