Vienna talks ‘exacerbating’ Iran’s hostage-taking: Richard Ratcliffe

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Negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal are “exacerbating” the country’s hostage-taking, husband of British-Iranian dual citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe said in an Al Arabiya interview.

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Richard Ratcliffe suggested that the release of British hostages should have been a precondition for the revival of the deal that was abandoned in 2015.

He also said that the UK Foreign Office said they are close to securing Nazanin’s return to the UK, but that he is “not particularly positive” after five years of her detention.

Talks between Iran and major powers to revive the 2015 nuclear deal are currently taking place in Vienna.

US President Donald Trump backed out of the deal in May 2018, imposing sanctions on the Middle Eastern nation.

Iranian officials said on Monday that some progress had been made to revive the deal – saying that an interim deal might be on the table.

Nazanin, who worked for the Thompson Reuters Foundation, was detained in 2016 on charges of plotting against the government.

Her five-year prison term ended in March 2021 and she was released from house arrest.

Richard told Al Arabiya that his wife had been able to visit relatives over the Persian new year Nowruz holiday, adding: “After five years of confinement that has been a big thing.”

A new case was, however, brought against her soon after her release, preventing her from leaving the country.

Nazanin’s detention has been linked to a historic $558 million debt owed by the UK to Iran for the non-delivery of weaponry to the Shah before the 1979 revolution.

A court hearing over the debt was due to take place in London this week, but was postponed on Monday, the Guardian reports.

“I think it has been clear for years, that all of Nazanin's court cases live in the shadow of the debt case in London,” Ratcliffe said.

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