UK downplays reports of Nazanin's release

The UK has downplayed reports a deal has been struck to secure the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Video Transcript

- It looked like the news she and her family were waiting for. Iran, claiming a breakthrough in talks with Britain had secured Nazanin Zangari Ratliff's release. The Iranians said the UK had agreed to settle a long standing debt for tanks paid for in the '70s, but never delivered by Britain. And in return, Nazanin would be coming home, but the UK poured cold water on the claims.

In a statement, the foreign office, saying, "We continue to explore options to resolve this 40-year-old case and will not comment further as legal discussions are ongoing." British sources told Sky News, nothing has changed. Earlier in the day, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab leveled more criticism of Nazanin's Iranian captors.

- Nazanin is held unlawfully, in my view, as a matter of international law. I think she's being treated in the most abusive, torturous way. I think it amounts to torture the way she's been treated, and there is a very clear, unequivocal obligation on the Iranians to release her and all of those who are being held as leverage immediately and without condition. And we call on Iran to step up and comply with its obligations.

- This is yet another false dawn for Nazanin, and her family. But her husband, Richard, wasn't sounding disheartened.

- It's probably a good sign, he said, that it's being signaled just as last week's sentence was a bad sign. But it feels part of the negotiations rather than the end of them. In 1979, under the Shah of Iran, Iranians paid 400 million pounds for British chieftain tanks. Britain failed to deliver when this happened, Iran's Islamic revolution. Officially, the British government says the tank debt has nothing to do with Nazanin's fate. But Iran's made it clear, if it's paid, she has a better chance of being released. Her MP says it's time the debt was settled.

- Nazanin was told herself by someone who was interrogating her when she was in prison in Tehran that her imprisonment was directly linked to the UK's failure to pay those debts. Do I think we should pay it? Of course, I think we should pay it. Whether or not it releases Nazanin, if we owe a country money, we should be paying it.

- It is the latest cruel twist in Nazanin's unthinkable ordeal. She should have been on a plane heading home on March the 8th when her five year sentence ended, convicted, instead, on fresh charges. If diplomacy fails, she faces another two years at the least before any chance of being reunited with her family. Dominick Waghorn, Sky News.