Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

A British-Iranian academic, who was arrested and detained in Iran on allegations of spying, was released last week. The UK foreign authorities confirmed that while Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is still in the Iranian jail, Abbas Edalat has returned to England.

Edalat, who has a dual Iranian and British citizenship, is a mathematics and computer science professor at the Imperial College London. He was detained in Tehran in April on unspecified security charges. According to the reports, Edalat visited Iran to attend an academic workshop on April 15.

An Iranian news agency reported back then that Prof Edalat was a part of a “network” of British spies, whose other members had been identified and arrested.

The Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII), an anti-war protest group founded by Abbas Edalat, notified that he was released last week. The group, which opposes sanctions in Iran, also said that his detention was a case of “misinformation and misunderstanding”.

“It increasingly appears, as we had suspected, that his detention in spring in Iran was a case of misinformation and misunderstanding by the Iranian security apparatus,” the group said.

Edalat’s detention has raised hopes for another British-Iranian, a charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, detained in Iran since 2016. She is serving a five-year sentence in prison, after being convicted of spying charges that she has denied.

Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt met her husband Richard Ratcliffe on December 21, to assure him about his wife’s release. In a Twitter post on Tuesday, he wrote, “As we celebrate, let’s also remember those unjustly imprisoned like Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who is 40 tomorrow.”

With reference to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case, a Foreign Office spokesman said, “We have repeatedly lobbied the Iranians to release Ms Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on humanitarian grounds and we raise all our cases at every level and every opportunity.”

The spokesman added that the case become more difficult as Iran did not recognise dual nationality.

In April, the jails in Iran held nearly 30 dual nationals, which included a number of dual British-Iranian nationals.

A Foreign Office spokesman said, “We continue to take action on all our consular cases in Iran in line with what we believe will produce the best outcomes in their cases.”

Although Edalat has been released, many have accused Iran of arresting and imprisoning Iranians with second citizenships to use them as a bargaining chip in negotiations.

While only one citizen has been released, the authorities in the UK are still looking forward for Iran to free the several British-Iranian citizens detained.