British official relayed Iran’s demand for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to sign false confession, minister says | Political news

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A British official passed on a request from Iranian authorities for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to sign a false confession before his release, the government has admitted.

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

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

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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 detained for six years on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.

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

She said it was “dehumanizing” 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 had happened” and found it “surprising” that the UK government was involved.

Labour’s Tulip Siddiq, MP for the family constituency, has tabled an urgent question in the House of Commons asking why she was forced to do this and whether the Foreign Secretary or Prime Minister personally authorized British officials to advise him to do so.

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

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“Why make me sign a false confession?

“His ordeal was exacerbated when Iran made it clear that they would not allow him to leave Tehran airport unless Nazanin signed a document.”

The minister said a British official was present ‘to help facilitate’ the departure of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori – another British-Iranian national released at the same time who has been accused of spying since 2017.

Ms Milling said the official ‘conveyed the message from the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) that she should sign a confession’.

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

Ms Siddiq said she did not accept ‘what the minister says nobody forced her to’.

She said that in the days leading up to her release, Iranian authorities tried to get Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe to write and sign a document listing the false allegations she faced “admitting guilt, asking for leniency and promising not to not prosecute or criticize the Iranian”. government”.

“At Tehran airport on March 16, the day she was finally allowed to return to the UK, Iran again asked her to do so, but instead she tore the piece of paper,” the MP said.

“It wasn’t until a British official told her she had to sign it if she was going to board the waiting plane to take her home that she finally relented and gave the Iran what he wanted.

“Nazanin has returned home, but the toll this has taken on my constituent after six years in detention is unimaginable and unacceptable.”

Shortly after her release, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe criticized 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 £400million debt with Iran dating back to 1979.

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