Was it compassion or oil that brought Nazanin home?

COMMENT: Is it a coincidence that the breakthrough that brought Nazanin home seems to have been made after Russia invaded Ukraine?

Thursday, 17th March


Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is back the UK

NAZANIN Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s arrival back in the UK last night (Wednesday) will have brought a much-needed smile to the face of everyone.

It is six years since she last walked through the front door of her home in West Hampstead, turned on the lights and put her keys away.

Now she will be able to do so again, see her husband Richard and be able to pick up and cuddle her daughter Gabriella.

The campaign to free her has often seemed hopeless. Politicians – most often Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq – have lobbied, newspapers have protested and her husband Richard has brought hunger strikes to the doors of the Iranian Embassy and Foreign Office.

Nazanin’s family has met various foreign secretaries over the years who have puffed out their cheeks, wrung their hands and said they would try their best.

Jeremy Hunt once said it was “practicalities not principles” holding back any deal. For years, Nazanin was treated as just another number on a foreign office spreadsheet. When she was arrested in April 2016, a civil servant simply typed her name onto the list.

Liz Truss, the current foreign secretary, said her release was a result of “hard work” by British diplomats, slipping in that the £400million 40-year debt owed to Iran for unde­livered tanks had been paid.

Her statement may have been received by many as the actions of a team desperate to see a mother reunited with her family after years of misery.

But it may have been a far more crude calculation.

Is it coincidence that a breakthrough seems to have been made since Russia invaded Ukraine?

This week Boris Johnson has been in Saudi Arabia trying to get them to increase fuel production, and Iran itself is a major oil producer.

Just as a new financial Cold War begins, the government paid Iran the money.

Some will say that the outcome is all-important. Tonight Nazanin will be falling asleep safely with her family for the first time in six years.

But this was not the result of a compassionate era of Conservative Party international diplomacy or a new foreign secretary.

Other prisoners, still held but in less publicised circumstances, will wonder how they will ever make it back home.

Relatives will be going to sleep tonight without a loved one in the house. An empty chair at the dining room table. A bed that remains unslept in, because someone is dubiously incarcerated abroad.

They too need help from the gover­nment. Their campaigning goes on.

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