In response to ISNA’s question about efforts by certain British media to link the UK’s debt pay-off to Iran with the case of Ms. Zaghari, Qassemi said her case has been investigated in the Iranian court and she has been given her sentence after all necessary procedures were completed.
He said the Islamic Republic of Iran has long made great efforts and held extensive negotiations with the UK government to uphold the Iranian nation’s right and pursued the issue through various channels.
“The case of Ms. Nazanin Zaghari and the UK’s debt pay-off are two separate issues and there is no connection between them,” Qassemi said, adding that any attempt to link the two issues is totally wrong and rejected.
Iran’s intelligence authorities arrested Zaghari at the Imam Khomeini International Airport in April 2016 on spying charges as she was on her way home to London after visiting her parents in Tehran.
Zaghari was subsequently tried in an Iranian court and sentenced to five years in prison for spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic.
British media have said that she worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation. However, UK Secretary of State Johnson said in a statement to a parliamentary committee last week that Zaghari had been “simply teaching people journalism.”
Johnson’s remarks amounted to an accidental confession that Zaghari was plotting against the Iranian government, but British authorities described them a gaffe.
The Telegraph cited unidentified sources as saying this week that London was planning to transfer over £400 million ($528 million) in debt to Iran to have Zaghari released.
The debt is related to an arms deal signed during the 1970s, with the paper saying that Britain had sought legal advice about the transfer of money to Iran.
The British tabloid daily, The Sun, said Iran had demanded that Britain return the money which the former Shah of Iran paid in 1979 for 1,750 Chieftain tanks and other vehicles, almost none of which was eventually delivered.