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Iran makes Zaghari-Ratcliffe prisoner swap offer

April 25, 2019 at 4:53 pm

Richard Ratcliffe, husband of jailed British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe speaks to journalists after giving a press conference in London to mark the start of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s hunger strike in Tehran’s Evin prison on 14 January 2019. [DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images]

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has proposed a prisoner swap between a British-Iranian dual national, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and Iranians facing extradition to the US. Iran sentenced Zaghari-Ratcliffe to five years in prison three years ago for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime.

Zarif made his comments during a speech at the Asia Society in New York on Wednesday. He said that there are a number of Iranian nationals held in countries, including Australia and Germany, who are facing extradition to the US.

“Nobody talks about this lady,” Zarif said, referring to Negar Ghodskani, who reportedly gave birth behind bars in Australia. “All these people who are in prison on extradition requests from the US; I put this offer on the table now: Exchange them.”

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Ghodanski was arrested and jailed by the Australian authorities for allegedly sending export-controlled technology from the US to Iran. According to Zarif, the technology was “civilian aircraft parts.” He added that Tehran offered the prisoner swap to US officials six months ago but received no response.

The UK government has given Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protection in an attempt to pressure Tehran into releasing her. Her husband Richard Ratcliffe told the Guardian that the only time he was notified of a prisoner swap was by the Iranian authorities two years ago.

Human Rights Watch has reported that Iranian police are making more “politically motivated arrests” by putting Iranian dual citizens and foreigners in custody.