Zaghari-Ratcliffe told the BBC that after traveling to Tehran International Airport on the day of her release, she “was forced to sign [a] forced confession at the airport in the presence of the British government.”
“They told me you can’t get on the plane. And I knew that was like a last minute play because I knew they told me they got the money. So what’s the point of this? getting me to sign a fake piece of paper. It’s a forced confession,” Zaghari-Ratcliffe told the BBC in an interview aired on Monday.
The British-Iranian charity worker has been accused of collaborating with organizations trying to overthrow the Iranian regime. After being sentenced and imprisoned for almost 6 years, she was released on March 16, 2022. On the same day, the British government settled a dispute with the Iranian government over a decade-long debt of 400 million pounds ($524 million) to Iran, which Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian denied, with the release of the prisoner in was connected. The debt relates to undelivered armored vehicles and tanks originally ordered by Iran but canceled by the UK in response to the 1979 Iranian revolution, according to a research briefing released by the House of Commons Library.
Zaghari Ratcliffe told the BBC that when she met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on May 13, he said her detention was “about the debt” that the British government owed Iran.
A British official told CNN in the background that Zaghari Ratcliffe was asked to sign the document at the airport on pain of being barred from leaving Iran. A British official was present to oversee the departure of Zaghari Ratcliffe and his fellow detainee Anoosheh Ashoori from Iran.
In a statement, a spokesman for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “Iran subjected Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to a terrible ordeal up until the moment she left the country. All this time the British government worked tirelessly to end their unfair detention, but it has always been Iran’s gift to release Nazanin and allow her to return to her family.”
CNN has reached out to Iran’s Foreign Ministry for comment.
In her BBC interview, Zaghari-Ratcliffe stressed that all the “false confessions we’ve been exposed to” have “no value”.
“They are just propaganda for the Iranian regime to show how scary they are and they can do whatever they want,” she added.
Giving the BBC details of her living conditions during her detention, Zaghari-Ratcliffe said she was held in solitary confinement in a 1 x 2 meter windowless cell for around nine months.
“There’s a reason they keep people in solitary confinement and that’s to confess to things they didn’t do. And it works,” she said.
She also spoke of a sense of “responsibility” she feels when speaking out about her imprisonment, “so at least it doesn’t happen to others.”