UK official relayed demand from Iran for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to sign false confession, minister says | Politics News


A UK official relayed a demand from Iranian authorities to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to sign a false confession before her release, the government has admitted.

Foreign Office minister Amanda Milling told MPs that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe took the decision to sign the document when it was made clear that she would not be allowed to leave Tehran airport unless she did so.

Ms Milling told the House of Commons that no UK official forced the British-Iranian national to do so.

Politics hub: Boris Johnson suggested Sue Gray consider dropping partygate report, sources say

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was finally allowed to return to Britain in March to be reunited with her husband and seven-year-old daughter after being held for six years, accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

In an interview this week, she told the BBC she was “made to sign (a) forced confession at the airport in the presence of the British government”.

She said it was “dehumanising” and that she expected Iran to use it against her in the future.

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe told Sky News he was “furious that this happened” and found it “startling” that the British government was involved.

Labour’s Tulip Siddiq, the family’s constituency MP, tabled an urgent question in the House of Commons asking why she was forced to do so and whether the foreign secretary or prime minister personally authorised UK officials to advise her that she should.

Ms Milling said: “The treatment of Nazanin by the Islamic Republic of Iran has been horrendous.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

‘Why make me sign a false confession?’

“Her ordeal was exacerbated when Iran made clear they would not allow her to leave Tehran airport unless Nazanin signed a document.”

The minister said a UK official was present “to help facilitate” the departure of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori – another British-Iranian national freed at the same time, having been held on spying charges since 2017.

Ms Milling said the official “passed on the message from the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) that she needed to sign a confession”.

“Given the situation Iran put Nazanin in at the airport, she took the decision to sign the document,” the minister added. “No UK official forced Nazanin to do so.”

Ms Siddiq said she did not accept “what the minister is saying that no one forced her”.

She said that in the days leading up to her release Iranian authorities had tried to make Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe write out and sign a document listing the false allegations she faced “admitting guilt for them, requesting clemency and promising not to sue or critics the Iranian government”.

“At Tehran airport on 16 March, on the day she was eventually allowed to fly back to the UK, she was asked again to do this by Iran, but instead she tore up the piece of paper,” the MP said.

“It was only when a UK official told her that she had to sign it if she was going to board the plane that was waiting to take her home that she finally caved and gave Iran what they wanted.

“Nazanin returned home but the toll this took on my constituent after six years of detention is unimaginable and unacceptable.”

Shortly after her release, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe criticised the UK government for the delay in securing her freedom, saying “what happened now should have happened six years ago”.

It came after the UK settled a £400m debt with Iran dating back to 1979.


Source link