Iran prisoner swap means ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ says jailed Briton’s husband

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said Iran’s release of Kylie Moore-Gilbert in a prisoner swap shows there is “light at the end of the tunnel” in the battle for her freedom. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 November 2020

Iran prisoner swap means ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ says jailed Briton’s husband

  • Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces a fresh trial on charges of spreading propaganda against Tehran
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has denounced Iran’s decision to bring forward new charges

LONDON: The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said Iran’s release of Kylie Moore-Gilbert in a prisoner swap shows there is “light at the end of the tunnel” in the battle for her freedom.
Moore-Gilbert was apprehended by Iranian authorities in Tehran in 2018 and subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison over espionage charges that she has denied.
She was held in the same notorious prison as Zaghari-Ratcliffe when Iranian state media on Wednesday said she had been released in a prisoner exchange for three Iranians detained overseas.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, has been detained in the country since 2016 after being sentenced for plotting to overthrow the Iranian government. She has also denied the allegations against her.
Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said on Wednesday: “I think probably on a selfish level there’s always a kind of a bittersweet wondering when it’ll be our turn. Of course there isn’t a queue, these things happen in a random order.”
He added: “The reality is that whenever there’s movement, there’s hope. I don’t know what it means for us, it’s definitely a good thing for Kylie and it’s definitely a good thing for all of us that deals are being done.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport while traveling with her young daughter Gabriella to visit her parents in April 2016.
The UK government later afforded her diplomatic protection. It argues her innocence and that her treatment by Iran failed to meet international law obligations.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was released from prison in March amid the coronavirus pandemic but remains under house arrest.
She faces a fresh trial on charges of spreading propaganda against Tehran, just months before her expected release in March.
Iranian authorities have told her she will return to Evin prison following the hearings, which have been delayed.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has denounced Iran’s decision to bring forward new charges.
Ratcliffe described the charges as “spurious” and “indefensible and unacceptable,” saying: “I think we have to always prepare for the worst, hope that the (UK) government pulls something out of the hat and that she’s home for Christmas or is at least home in March, but fully expect the closer we get to the end of her sentence the more likely we get bad news and it gets extended.”
UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, who has condemned Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s treatment as “unacceptable and unjustified,” hailed Moore-Gilbert’s release and return to Australia.
“I call on the Iranian government to release all remaining dual British nationals arbitrarily detained and allow them to reunite with their loved ones,” he said.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s local MP Tulip Siddiq said: “Now let’s make this a Christmas reality for Nazanin too.”


Iran kicks off ground forces drill on coast of Gulf of Oman

Updated 19 January 2021

Iran kicks off ground forces drill on coast of Gulf of Oman

  • Commando units and airborne infantry were participating in the annual exercise along with air assets

TEHRAN: Iran’s military kicked off a ground forces drill on Tuesday along the coast of the Gulf of Oman, state TV reported, the latest in a series of snap exercises that the country is holding amid escalating tensions over its nuclear program and Washington’s pressure campaign against Tehran.
According to the report, commando units and airborne infantry were participating in the annual exercise, along with fighter jets, helicopters and military transport aircraft. Iran’s National Army chief Abdolrahim Mousavi was overseeing the drill.
Iran has recently stepped up military drills as part of an effort to pressure President-elect Joe Biden over the nuclear deal that President Donald Trump pulled out of. Biden has said the US could rejoin the multinational accord meant to contain Iran’s nuclear program.
On Saturday, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard conducted a drill, launching anti-warship ballistic missiles at a simulated target at a distance of some 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) in the Indian Ocean, a day after the Guard’s aerospace division launched surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and drones against “hypothetical enemy bases” in the country’s vast central desert.
Last Thursday, Iran’s navy fired cruise missiles as part of a naval drill in the Gulf of Oman, under surveillance of what appeared to be a US nuclear submarine. Earlier last week, the Guard’s affiliated forces carried out a limited maneuver in the Arabian Gulf after a massive, drones-only drill across half of the country earlier in January.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased amid a series of incidents stemming from Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. In the final days of the Trump administration, Tehran seized a South Korean oil tanker and begun enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels, while the US sent B-52 bombers, the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine into the region.
Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the US from Iran’s nuclear deal, in which Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Trump cited Iran’s ballistic missile program among other issues in withdrawing from the accord.
When the US then stepped up economic sanctions, Iran gradually abandoned the limits that the deal had imposed on its nuclear development.