Iranian Debt Prevents Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s Release, Husband Says | Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
The release of Anglo-Iranian binational Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe delayed by British government agency engaging in “all legal roadblocks to delay and minimize payment” to Iran a recognized debt of £ 400 million, said lawyers for her husband, Richard Ratcliffe.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, accused of espionage, was held in a Tehran prison, sometimes in solitary confinement or on hunger strike, since 2016.
The complaint about the agency – International Military Services – was made in a letter sent to the Secretary of Defense, Ben wallace, which, in its ministerial role, controls 99% of the IMS. The top-secret IMS now exists only as a way to deal with a £ 400million debt that an international tribunal has forced the government to accept it owed to Iran.
The debt arose out of the fact that Britain reneged on a contract in 1979 to provide Iran with an order for 1,000 Chieftain tanks and armored vehicles.
As a backbench MP, Wallace called on the government to speed up debt payments to Iran, but since becoming Secretary of Defense he has not responded or taken note of the letter sent by Ratcliffe on September 6 outlining how the government “played legal and political games which have been a major cause of Iran’s retaliatory tactics against innocent individuals like Nazanin”.
The letter says the Ratcliffe family find it extremely frustrating that the government claims to be doing everything in its power to secure his release, but in reality has not “explored obvious possible solutions.”
Since a decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2001, which was reviewed in 2009, the UK has paid money to the tribunal but insists it cannot transfer the sum to the Iranian branch of the Ministry of Defense Modsaf because the branch has become subject. to EU sanctions in 2008.
The letter from Ratcliffe’s lawyers states:
- IMS has collected inflation-adjusted interest of £ 350-400 million since 1979 from investments made with cash owed to Iran.
- The treasury office responsible for implementing financial sanctions has delayed taking any decision on a pending Iranian government request, first made on March 14, 2017, to pay off the £ 400million debt to the Iranian central bank, an unsanctioned body.
- Iranian justice in the Zaghari-Ratcliffe case, including during hearings calling for his release, has at least three times explicitly linked his fate to the payment of his debt. Arrests or accusations of others linked to the UK by the Iranian regime may be directly linked to UK legal developments in the payment of debts.
- Debt payment could be made in kind through humanitarian aid or through an authorized exemption from the EU sanctions regime.
- After successfully resisting an Iranian legal claim that the UK must also pay interest on the sums it owes Iran, IMS is now threatening to suspend payment of the money altogether, even though the sanctions against Modsaf are lifted.
The lawyers write: ‘It is alarming that the UK government is spending money and resources on making technical legal arguments in court to avoid paying an amount which they fully recognize is owed, instead to try to find a way to pay off the debt.
“It is striking, and will not be lost on Iran, that IMS apparently profited from non-payment of IMS debt for an amount equivalent to IMS debt. No wonder Iran sees the whole thing as the UK government playing legal and political games, which is a major cause of Iran’s retaliatory tactics against individuals. innocent like Nazanin.
Describing the Treasury’s failure to make a decision on a permit to pay the debt as unfathomable, they argue: “It is clearly within the powers of the government to make an exception for such a payment and it is difficult to imagine the circumstances. ‘a more pressing need. “
The lawyers add: “The government’s inconsistent back-and-forth over the payment of unpaid IMS debt has had manifestly disastrous consequences, not only for Nazanin but for other British citizens. Such political maneuvering is both reckless and reminiscent of the government’s action towards Iran in the 1980s. ”
In the letter, Ratcliffe called for meetings with the Secretary of Defense and government legal advisers, a Commons statement setting out the government’s position on IMS debt and assurances that the Secretary of Defense had been fully informed by its officials on the matter.
The Defense Ministry said, “This is a long-standing affair and concerns contracts signed over 40 years ago with the pre-revolution Iranian regime. Funding to settle the debt was provided to the High Court by the Treasury and IMS in 2002. It would be inappropriate to comment further as the litigation continues.
Government sources said efforts were underway to arrange a meeting with Ratcliffe at the top level, as requested.