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A former top US politician accused Britain of paying ‘blood money’ to Iran to secure the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Mike Pompeo, who was Washington’s top diplomat during Donald Trump‘s presidency, lashed out at the £400million ($530million) debt paid to Tehran in tandem with the British aid worker’s release.

Pompeo, a long-time hawk on Iran, claimed the money would be used to ‘terrorize’ opponents of the hardline Islamic regime, including The United States and Israel.

Downing Street rejected his claims today, insisting the £400million payment was not directly linked to the release of the British mum after six years in a Tehran prison.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman today said there were ‘rigorous safeguards’ in place to ensure that the cash was only used to fund humanitarian aid.

He also said that the payment complied with tight sanctions in place on Iran over its attempts to start a nuclear research project that could allow it to create atomic weapons. 

In a blunt tweet last night, Mr Pompeo said: ‘The UK priced taking & holding its citizens hostage at $530 million. 

‘We prevented paying blood money— not rewarding hostage-takers.

Mike Pompeo, who was Washington's top diplomat during Donald Trump's presidency, lashed out at the £400million ($530million) debt paid to Tehran in tandem with the British aid worker's release.

Mike Pompeo, who was Washington's top diplomat during Donald Trump's presidency, lashed out at the £400million ($530million) debt paid to Tehran in tandem with the British aid worker's release.

Mike Pompeo, who was Washington’s top diplomat during Donald Trump’s presidency, lashed out at the £400million ($530million) debt paid to Tehran in tandem with the British aid worker’s release.

Downing Street rejected his claims today, insisting the £400million payment was not directly linked to the release of the British mum after six years in a Tehran prison.

Downing Street rejected his claims today, insisting the £400million payment was not directly linked to the release of the British mum after six years in a Tehran prison.

Downing Street rejected his claims today, insisting the £400million payment was not directly linked to the release of the British mum after six years in a Tehran prison. 

Labour accuses PM of lengthening mum’s stay in Iranian prison 

Boris Johnson caused Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s captivity in Iran to ‘go on longer than it might otherwise’, Sir Keir Starmer claimed today.

When foreign secretary in 2017, Boris Johnson told a select committee of MPs that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was detained by Tehran for six years after being accused of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government, was in the country ‘simply teaching people journalism’.

Speaking to broadcasters in central London, Labour’s leader said: ‘The first thing I’d say is I think, like everybody else, it is fantastic to see Nazanin, Richard and their family reunited – just a very human emotion, I think, has poured out over the last few hours as we’ve seen those images.

‘I’m sorry to say that the actions of the Prime Minister caused this to go on longer than it might otherwise have done and obviously there will be questions about that.’

 

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‘That cash will terrorize Israel, UK & US. Sadly, Iran, w/Russia & China, is rolling the West. Appeasement feels good until it fails— it always does.’ 

Iran long insisted Britain owed the money for 1,750 Chieftain tanks and other vehicles which were paid for but not delivered after the 1979 revolution toppled the Western-backed Shah.

Both Tehran and London have denied there is a link with the fate of Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

But in December, Ms Truss confirmed the £400million was a ‘legitimate debt’ that the Government wanted to pay.

And experts said it is part of a much broader push to restore relations with the Gulf state, which went into the deep freeze over fears nuclear fuel it claimed was being enriched for power stations could be used for weapons.

The former head of the British Army accused officials of treating Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe as a political pawn.

General Lord Dannatt said the debt should have been paid off decades ago.

He told GB News: ‘I think there’s a big question to be asked, why have we dragged our feet by not paying that £400 million bill to the Iranians?

‘And if that was the reason that kept this poor woman in prison for six years, well, big questions are going to be asked.’

He added: ‘She has been on the face of it a political pawn, when we probably could have resolved this some time ago.

‘So there may be smiles in the Foreign Office today but I think there are officials going back many years, they need to search their consciences and ask themselves the question, should we not have paid that bill?

‘Was it not a legitimate bill? Should we not have settled it decades ago, and I think the poor woman has copped the lot as far as that’s concerned and that’s not good diplomacy.’

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s first hours of freedom involved enjoying a cup of tea with her family and then sharing a bed with her husband and daughter after returning to Britain following almost six years of detention in Iran, it was revealed today.

At around 1.15am the British-Iranian landed at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire where she was reunited with Richard Ratcliffe and their daughter Gabriella, who had refused to believe her mother was coming home after several ‘false dawns’ and 2,173 days of tortuous detention by Ayatollah Khamenei’s hardline regime.

In an extraordinary and emotional video filmed by the daughter of Anoosheh Ashoori, 67, who was also released by Iran yesterday in return for a £400million debt repayment, the seven-year-old can be heard yelling ‘mummy, mummy – is that mummy?’ as Nazanin walks down the steps of the British jet with Mr Ashoori. 

It brought to a close six years of hell for the charity worker, who suffered extreme psychological torture, solitary confinement and hardship in jail in Tehran thanks to the trumped-up spying charges she was convicted of.

The moment Richard and Gabriella were reunited was not filmed – though the tears of joy can be heard – but a picture of the ecstatic family was taken seconds later. Nazanin then emerges from behind a blue screen and cannot stop tenderly hugging and kissing her only child, who she had not seen or touched for three years. Nazanin holds her daughter’s hands and strokes her hair throughout the reunion, leaning in for regular kisses and cuddles.

The Shah of Iran paid Britain £650million for 1,750 Chieftain tanks (file photo above) in the 1970s but only 185 had been delivered when he was toppled in 1979 and the new government cancelled the order

The Shah of Iran paid Britain £650million for 1,750 Chieftain tanks (file photo above) in the 1970s but only 185 had been delivered when he was toppled in 1979 and the new government cancelled the order

The Shah of Iran paid Britain £650million for 1,750 Chieftain tanks (file photo above) in the 1970s but only 185 had been delivered when he was toppled in 1979 and the new government cancelled the order

During one tender embrace Gabriella tells her: ‘You smell nice’, to which her mother laughs and hugs her again saying: ‘Do I smell nice? I haven’t had a shower for 24 hours. Is that okay?’. They hug again as Richard says: ‘She smells nice to daddy’. Nazanin then holds her daughter’s hand again and says: ‘I will be back in just a minute’ and then looks down at her and says: ‘That is a very very cool jumper’. Gabriella had also picked out her favourite toys to show her mother on her return.

The family were also met by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who signed off on the £400m debt owed by Britain to Tehran from the 1970s that secured her release, before being moved to a safe house where Nazanin, Richard and Gabriella shared a bed together after so long apart, Richard’s sister Rebecca Ratcliffe said today.

The couple’s local MP Tulip Siddiq said that the family are now going to have to rebuild their life together, while former hostage Terry Waite said it will take Nazanin ‘some time’ to recover from the ‘trauma’ she has suffered in Iranian prison.

Ms Siddiq said: ‘They are very different people now. There is going to be a huge process of getting to know each other again and Gabriella has to trust her mother again as well’.

Nazanin holds her daughter close after landing on British soil for the first time in six years in the early hours of this morning

Nazanin holds her daughter close after landing on British soil for the first time in six years in the early hours of this morning

Nazanin holds her daughter close after landing on British soil for the first time in six years in the early hours of this morning

The US State Department says its paying more than $2million per month to provide 24-hour security to Mr Pompeo and another $175,000 for another former top aide, both of whom face ‘serious and credible’ threats from Iran.

The department told Congress in a report that the cost of protecting Pompeo and former Iran envoy Brian Hook between August 2021 and February 2022 amounted to $13.1million. The report, dated February 14 and marked ‘sensitive but unclassified,’ was obtained by The Associated Press on Saturday. 

It is costing the department roughly $2million a month to protect Pompeo and an additional $175,000 for Hook, according to the Washington Examiner

Home at last: The Zaghari-Ratcliffe family are finally reunited after Nazanin was detained for nearly six years in Iran

Home at last: The Zaghari-Ratcliffe family are finally reunited after Nazanin was detained for nearly six years in Iran

Home at last: The Zaghari-Ratcliffe family are finally reunited after Nazanin was detained for nearly six years in Iran

Pompeo and Hook are not the only ones under threat. US intelligence have discovered that there may be an assassination attempt on John Bolton, reportedly by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but the Biden Administration is not acting on it, as it discusses the nuclear deal with Iran. 

President Biden is hoping to resume the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Iran nuclear accord after Former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement and Iran in turn suspended its compliance and began work on developing nuclear weapons.

A new nuclear deal with Iran is currently nearing completion from negotiations in Vienna, Austria.

The DOJ source claimed that the Biden administration will not publicly indict the two men who have been planning the assassination because it could derail the near-done Iran nuclear deal.

However, Pompeo and Hook led the Trump administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran and the report says US intelligence assessed that the threats to them have remained constant since they left government and could intensify. The threats have persisted even as President Joe Biden’s administration has been engaged in indirect negotiations with Iran over a US return to a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Source: dailymail

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