Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says Iran prides itself on taking hostages for money every year.

Political prisoner Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe said it was clear early on that she was being held hostage as part of an Iranian government strategy to extract money from Britain

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on signing a false confession

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe said it was made clear to her early on that she was being held hostage to earn money from the UK government.

The British-Iranian political prisoner spent six years in Iran after being arrested on fabricated charges in 2016 when she landed at the airport to visit her parents.

The 44-year-old was charged with crimes against national security.

She is said to have taught a journalism course that encourages people to spread propaganda.

In reality, she just introduced her parents to her 22-month-old daughter, Gabriella.

Her ordeal resulted in her finally being able to return to the UK in March.

Speaking to Emma Barnett on BBC One’s Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on Monday night, Nazanin said it quickly became clear to her that she was being jailed as a farmer to “get something from the UK government”.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and dual citizen Anoosheh Ashoori arrive in Muscat, Oman in March



She explained: “We are talking about a regime, one of the highest officials once said that we pride ourselves on taking a few hostages every year to make money from them.

“So that’s the idea, that’s the ideology. It’s a strategy.

“They arrest us to make something of us. They’re taking me to get something from the British government.

Nazanin with her husband Richard Ratcliffe and host Emma Barnett



“They said that very clearly.

“I think it was the second week that I was arrested. They said we want something from the UK Government, we won’t let you go until we have that.

“And they gradually developed the story and it was a lot clearer,” she added.

The Iranians told her Britain has now paid off a historic £400m debt dating back to the 1970s.

Labor MPs Tulip Siddiq and Nazanin



This was denied by Britain for years, but eventually paid when Nazanin was released.

She also told Ms Barnett she was forced to sign a “false confession” in front of a British government witness before she was allowed to leave Iran.

She said the act captured on camera by the Iranians was “dehumanizing” and she expected Tehran to use it against them in the future.

Nazanin with her daughter Gabriella, husband Richard and British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss


Simon Dawson/Downing Street HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Under “duress” she was forced to admit the Iranians’ allegations.

The charity worker said she was taken to the airport by the Revolutionary Guards without seeing her parents on the day in March that she was supposed to be freed.

In her first press conference since freedom, the British-Iranian mother said her ordeal “will always haunt me” – and she had found it difficult to trust Britain’s foreign ministers to see her home as the years went by .

In a moving plea, she added that “the meaning of freedom will never be complete” until Morad Tahbaz and other dual citizens are released and reunited with their families.

“I was the lucky one,” she said.

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