Iran prisoner swap means ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ says jailed Briton’s husband

Iran prisoner swap means ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ says jailed Briton’s husband
The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said Iran’s release of Kylie Moore-Gilbert in a prisoner swap shows there is “light at the end of the tunnel” in the battle for her freedom. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 26 November 2020

Iran prisoner swap means ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ says jailed Briton’s husband

Iran prisoner swap means ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ says jailed Briton’s husband
  • Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces a fresh trial on charges of spreading propaganda against Tehran
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has denounced Iran’s decision to bring forward new charges

LONDON: The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said Iran’s release of Kylie Moore-Gilbert in a prisoner swap shows there is “light at the end of the tunnel” in the battle for her freedom.
Moore-Gilbert was apprehended by Iranian authorities in Tehran in 2018 and subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison over espionage charges that she has denied.
She was held in the same notorious prison as Zaghari-Ratcliffe when Iranian state media on Wednesday said she had been released in a prisoner exchange for three Iranians detained overseas.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, has been detained in the country since 2016 after being sentenced for plotting to overthrow the Iranian government. She has also denied the allegations against her.
Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said on Wednesday: “I think probably on a selfish level there’s always a kind of a bittersweet wondering when it’ll be our turn. Of course there isn’t a queue, these things happen in a random order.”
He added: “The reality is that whenever there’s movement, there’s hope. I don’t know what it means for us, it’s definitely a good thing for Kylie and it’s definitely a good thing for all of us that deals are being done.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport while traveling with her young daughter Gabriella to visit her parents in April 2016.
The UK government later afforded her diplomatic protection. It argues her innocence and that her treatment by Iran failed to meet international law obligations.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was released from prison in March amid the coronavirus pandemic but remains under house arrest.
She faces a fresh trial on charges of spreading propaganda against Tehran, just months before her expected release in March.
Iranian authorities have told her she will return to Evin prison following the hearings, which have been delayed.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has denounced Iran’s decision to bring forward new charges.
Ratcliffe described the charges as “spurious” and “indefensible and unacceptable,” saying: “I think we have to always prepare for the worst, hope that the (UK) government pulls something out of the hat and that she’s home for Christmas or is at least home in March, but fully expect the closer we get to the end of her sentence the more likely we get bad news and it gets extended.”
UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, who has condemned Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s treatment as “unacceptable and unjustified,” hailed Moore-Gilbert’s release and return to Australia.
“I call on the Iranian government to release all remaining dual British nationals arbitrarily detained and allow them to reunite with their loved ones,” he said.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s local MP Tulip Siddiq said: “Now let’s make this a Christmas reality for Nazanin too.”


Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs

Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs
This picture shows the Dome of the Rock at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Jerusalem's Old City on July 27, 2018, after the site was reopened. (AFP)
Updated 52 min 53 sec ago

Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs

Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs
  • Council set to denounce action that is ‘violation of understandings’

AMMAN: Israeli police have stopped workers from the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf from renovating the Dome of the Rock for two consecutive days, raising tensions in the old city.

Azzam Khatib, director of the Jordanian Waqf department in Jerusalem, informed Jordan’s Ambassador in Tel Aviv Ghassan Majali and Minister of Waqf in Amman Mohammed Khalaileh of the news.

Israeli officials claim the decision was made after an individual tried to renovate the ceiling of the Bab Al-Rahmeh mosque, which Israel has demanded Muslims to vacate, without reason.

The Jerusalem Waqf Council is expected to issue a strong statement denouncing the Israeli action, calling it a violation of understandings.

Bassam Hallaq, the Waqf engineer in charge of the renovation, said that Israeli police stopped work on the gold-plated Dome of the Rock on Saturday and Sunday, and prevented urgent electric work, too.

Israel insists that any renovation or repair must be pre-approved. The renovation is not structural.

Arab News has learned that the Israeli actions on Saturday and Sunday followed the efforts of an unknown Palestinian whose face was covered, who climbed the roof of the Bab Al-Rahmeh mosque in order to apply cement to stop leaks.

Israel has forbidden any repair work on the mosque.

Hallaq said that all repair work in the entire Al-Aqsa compound has also been suspended by Israel.

The mosque’s engineer insists that the Waqf has no cement materials inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and that Friday was a holiday when staff did not work.

Sheikh Omar Kisswani, director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told reporters that repairs to the entire 144 dunum Haram Al-Sharif/Al-Aqsa mosque compound were the right of the Islamic Waqf and that the Israeli police have no right to interfere in their work.

A spokesman for the Israeli police told Arab News that the “subject isn’t under the responsibility of the Israeli police.”