Today the Foreign Secretary gave a statement in the House of Commons about the release of my constituent Anoosheh Ashoori and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. After the Foreign Secretary’s statement I told her about the relief of Anoosheh’s family on his return home but also the suffering they have endured for nearly 5 years.
I then thanked the Government for their work on securing Anoosheh’s release but I also questioned why it took them so long for this to happen.
You can watch the exchange here or you can read it below:
Janet Daby (Lab, Lewisham East): Mr Speaker, this is really a day of celebration for Anoosheh’s family.
I think they will be so relieved when the plane hits the ground and both Nazanin and Anoosheh are walking again on British soil. As Anoosheh’s Member of Parliament, I am, of course, thrilled beyond belief for his release and for Nazanin.
I’m incredibly happy for Anoosheh’s wife Sherry, for his children Elika and Aryan, as well as for their families and friends.
Today I spoke to Sherry, indeed I’ve been speaking to her yesterday as well and she tells me that she has had several years of heartache and separation.
Of course, all of this could have been avoided.
It is right that the issue of the long-standing debt of approximately £400 million pounds was addressed and returned by the British government to secure the freedom of our British citizens.
I do salute as well the foreign secretary for making the IMS debt her priority and I thank her for that.
But I would also like to say that it has been over one thousand six hundred and fifty days since Anoosheh was detained and these are days of his life that cannot be returned to him.
I would therefore like two ask the right honourable member why it is taking so long for the government to secure Nazanin and Anoosheh’s release.
Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Liz Truss: Well, I’d like to pay tribute to the Honourable lady for her tireless, campaigning on this issue.
I share her sense of anxiety, and there was some very anxious moments this afternoon, as we waited for wheels up in Tehran as the plane departed.
And we knew that finally, our detainees and Nazanin and Anoosheh would be returning back to the United Kingdom.
We are very much looking forward to welcoming them later on today. I have spoken to the family to Sherry and I know how hard it has been for the families and the courage that they have shown over these very, very difficult years. What I will say about the process of securing the release of our detainees is that Foreign Secretaries, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Office officials have worked tirelessly on this.
There is a very, very dedicated team at the Foreign Office.
Last summer we saw a new Government in place in Iran.
It did give us an opportunity to start afresh on some of these issues to look at new ways that we could do things in terms of paying the IMS debt and we have been able to deliver on this.
But we have to remember that fundamentally it was the Iranian Government who put these people in detention and ultimately what we need to do, and as many members across this house have been saying, is change the incentives on Government, so taking detainees unfairly is not seen as something that is a proposition in the modern world.
But I do to pay tribute to Foreign Office officials who have worked tirelessly for years to make this happen.