Iran detainees Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashouri heading to airport before leaving country

British-Iranian nationals Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashouri are heading to Tehran airport ahead of leaving the country, their lawyer has said.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker from Hampstead, northwest London, had been detained since her arrest in 2016 on charges of plotting to overthrow the Tehran government, which she denies.

Her release comes after her UK MP Tulip Siddiq announced on Tuesday that she had her British passport returned.

There have been several times over the years where it has appeared that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was to be released so there is still reticence over the news but Ms Siddiq told Sky News she has been independently informed the two British-Iranians are at the airport.

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s story

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was taking her daughter to visit family when she was arrested at Tehran Airport and sentenced to five years in jail, spending four in Evin Prison and one under house arrest.

According to her family, she was told by local authorities that she was being detained because of the UK’s failure to pay an outstanding £400m debt to Iran.

Retired civil engineer Anoosheh Ashouri, 68, was arrested in Iran in 2017 while visiting his mother, and was jailed for 10 years on spying charges.

Earlier today, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss repeated Sky News that the £400m that Britain owes Iran is a “legitimate debt” that the government wants to pay. She would not say whether the debt has now been paid.

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of detained charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, continues with his hunger strike outside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London, Tuesday Nov. 9, 2021. Ratcliffe began his hunger strike after a court decided his wife has to spend another year in an Iranian prison, she has already been detained for more than five years in Iran. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Richard Ratcliffe has been fighting for his wife’s release

Read more: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – The six-year fight for freedom

During her detention, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family and friends in the UK kept up a continuous fight for her freedom, which saw her husband on hunger strike, and there has been international outcry for her release.

In March 2020, she was freed from jail due to the coronavirus pandemic and kept under house arrest, but hopes of her being granted clemency were later dashed and in April last year she was given an additional one-year jail term and banned from leaving Iran for a year.

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