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Two British citizens who had been jailed in Iran for more than five years — charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and retired civil engineer Anoosheh Ashoori — returned home to their families’ hugs and tears Thursday after the UK settled a decades-old debt to Iran.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe hugged her seven-year-old daughter, and her husband and members of Ashoori’s family tearfully embraced one another after the two arrived via a government-chartered aircraft at the Brize Norton air force base in Oxfordshire in the early morning hours.
The British government said a third detainee, Morad Tahbaz, who holds US, British and Iranian citizenship, was released from prison on furlough as part of the same deal.
The breakthrough was reached as world leaders try to negotiate the return of both Iran and the US to an international agreement designed to limit Tehran’s nuclear enrichment program — talks that have been complicated by the prisoner issue.
Negotiators have edged closer to a roadmap for restoring the accord, though recent Russian demands slowed progress.
“Looking forward to a new life,″ said Richard Ratcliffe, who had worked tirelessly for his wife’s release.