House of Commons Library

Iranian-British dual nationals held in Iran

Published Friday, November 17, 2017

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a UK-British dual national who is held in an Iranian prison on vague charges.

Jump to full report >>

Several dual UK/Iranian nationals have been arrested and detained in Iran on dubious charges. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed in 2016 on vague charges of plotting against the state and separated from her baby daughter. Her husband has been campaigning for her release. Kamal Foroughi is a 78-year old who has been in Iranian custody since 2011, convicted of espionage.

Both have been the subject of campaigns for their release, and the UK Government has been criticised for not acting decisively in the cases.

Campaigners have linked this alleged reluctance to trade opportunities in Iran or to power struggles in Iran, where hard-liners may trying to sabotage President Rouhani’s more cooperative policies in relation to the West. Lastly, campaigners point to about £400 million that is owed by the British Government to Iran for the non-delivery of hundreds of Chieftain tanks that were paid for by the Shah; he was then deposed in the revolution of 1979 and the UK has still not repaid the money. Recent reports suggest that the UK may be preparing to resolve the tanks issue.

Campaigners have called for the UK Government to grant Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe diplomatic protection. This is a much higher level of intervention than the usual diplomatic assistance that the UK may offer to UK nationals imprisoned abroad. Diplomatic protection would raise the matter to a dispute between the states. International law is not entirely clear on whether one country of nationality can grant diplomatic protection to a dual national imprisoned in the other country of their nationality

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8147

Author: Ben Smith

Share this page

Stay up to date

  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Commons Briefing papers

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.