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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s 6-year detention highlights Britain’s diminished diplomatic influence

Finally reunited with her family after years of pressure on the British government.

Britain’s diplomatic power is greatly diminished in the Middle East, either due to reduced prestige or lack of trying,” says Radha Stirling, founder and CEO of Detained in Dubai and Due Process International, “The release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from Iran after 6 years of brutal and inhuman detention is obviously a joyous event, but hardly a triumph of British diplomacy. The UK’s calls for her freedom were flatly ignored by the Iranian government since 2016, and her release appears to have been secured only upon payment of a £393.8 million debt owed by the UK to Iran.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested by Iranian authorities on her way back to the UK in 2016 and was accused of being a spy. She was held in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran until her release March 16th.

Stirling points out that several British nationals remain unjustly detained in the United Arab Emirates as well, with the FCDO seemingly incapable of persuading the Gulf State to release them. “Relations are poor between the UK and Iran, so an argument could be made that this complicated the efforts to get Nazanin home,” Stirling notes, “But the UAE is an ally, enjoying all the benefits of trade, tourism, and security cooperation with the UK; yet British citizens like Albert Douglas, Billy Hood, Ryan Cornelius, and Steve Long, are all languishing in prison and the British government appears unable or unwilling to convince the Emiratis to let them go.