Isles MP Angus MacNeil stood with cross party MPs at Westminster yesterday (Tuesday) calling for the UK Government to finally act and secure the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Mr MacNeil was contacted by a high number of constituents asking him to attend yesterday’s debate and put pressure on the UK Government to act.
Nazanine Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been unlawfully detained in Iran for nearly six years, separated from her young daughter and family.
Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, began a hunger strike outside the Foreign Office on 24 October, hoping to put pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to meet Iranian delegates at the COP26 climate summit and to demand freedom for Britons detained in Iran.
In an Intervention at the Westminster Hall debate yesterday, Mr MacNeil said: “If we were able to engineer a vote today on the payment of the debt, it would be unanimous.
“Is there a way that we can engineer a vote in the main Chamber on the debt, so that we add pressure on the Government to pay the debt and get Nazanin home?”
The UK owes money for failing to deliver tanks Iran bought in the 1970s.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe believes she has been imprisoned as leverage for the debt.
The case of Mrs Zaghari Ratcliffe made headlines again in recent weeks after she was sentenced to another year in prison, just weeks after she reached the end of a five-year sentence. She was first jailed in Tehran in 2016 on spying charges, which she has always denied.
Her husband, Richard, maintains she is being used as a bargaining chip in the dispute over the unpaid debt, as well as leverage in talks over the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
Mr MacNeil met with Richard Ratcliffe during his previous hunger strike in 2019 and has written several letters to the UK Government urging them to redouble efforts to secure her release.
He added: “SNP MPs in Westminster continue to press Boris Johnson and the Foreign Secretary to do much more to help Nazanin’s release. The fact that Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and other ministers did not take the time to come out of their offices to visit Richard Ratcliffe at his tent and see first-hand how desperate the situation is, is a sign of their disregard for the issue.
“Empty words will no longer be enough – a proactive approach is needed by this government. The FCDO must now once and for all set out evidence of detailed and concrete steps to get her home.”