No Talks With Britain Over Prisoner Swap

No Talks With UK on Prisoner SwapNo Talks With UK on Prisoner Swap

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi said Iran and Britain have not discussed a prisoner exchange deal during the recent visit of a high-ranking British delegation to Iran.

The delegation, led by UK's Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt, was in Iran to attend the inauguration ceremony for reelected President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday.

British media reported before the trip that Burt was going to raise the cases of dual Iranian-British nationals detained in Iran, including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

"There have been no talks on a prisoner exchange [deal] between Iran and the UK," IRNA quoted Qasemi as saying in a regular press briefing on Monday.

Burt wrote in a Twitter post on Sunday he had discussed "consular cases" with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a meeting on the same day.

Iran does not recognize dual nationality.

Burt also wrote in a separate post that he had met the family of Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Tehran.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 at the airport as she tried to leave Tehran after a visit, while working for the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The woman, 38, was sentenced to five years in prison last fall on the charge of assisting efforts at "soft toppling" of Iran's government.

Kamal Foroughi, imprisoned for espionage, and Roya Nobakht, jailed for anti-government cyber activities, are other British-Iranian nationals being held in Iran.


***Saudi Probe Into Embassy Attack

Qasemi also said Iran has cooperated with a Saudi probe into the 2016 attacks on its embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad, dismissing reports by Saudi media that it has denied a Saudi delegation visas to obtain on-site information for the investigations.  

The official Saudi Press Agency reported an unnamed Saudi Foreign Ministry official as saying last week that Iranian authorities had "persistently and consistently" stalled the investigations into the attacks by protestors angered over the Saudi execution of top Saudi cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on terrorism charges without due process.

Qasemi said Iran has issued visas and even the license for an exclusive flight for a Saudi delegation to visit the diplomatic premises in the shortest possible time.

"They have the license and can fly to Tehran whenever they want," he said.

"I believe there is an [ill] will to spread [fabricated] stories telling Iran is creating obstacles and stops the Saudis going there," he added.

The Saudi government used the attacks as a pretext to rupture ties with Tehran, despite the fact that Iran condemned the attacks and passed prison sentences for the perpetrators.

The Iranian spokesperson said based on an agreement between the two countries, an Iranian delegation is about to get visas for visiting Iran's diplomatic premises in Saudi Arabia.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints