Brussels announced a huge package for Iran, despite Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe still being jailed there
Brussels eurocrats announced on Thursday, August 23 the first €18million (£16million) instalment of a wider €50million package for Iran, a regime where Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being detained for being a spy – a crime she has always vehemently denied.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was granted a few fleeting hours with her four-year-old daughter, Gabriella, when she was temporarily released from jail last week.
Hopes she might have been spared from returning to jail were dashed after a reprieve failed to emerge from authorities, meaning she will continue to serve her five-year prison sentence away from her husband and daughter.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, a number of MEPs have voiced their outrage following the European Commission’s announcement of its support package amid the continued incarceration of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Ukip MEP for the East Midlands, Margot Parker, said: “I don’t know how they justify it.
“This is a regime that is quite brutal – it is brutal – and we see that with the most awful treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
“This particular woman has been a pawn in the most vile and abusive way.”
She added: “So, I’m sorry, but I don’t think the EU should be doing anything of the kind; I think they can spend EU taxpayers’ money in a better way.”
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has been campaigning for her release
Supporters hold a collection of letters and posters calling for the release of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Ms Parker argued the EU wanted to support Iran because of the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Trump scrapped US involvement in the deal, which agreed to the easing of sanctions on the Middle Eastern nation in return for curbing its nuclear energy programme.
Ms Parker maintained foreign aid work should be concerned with exporting great UK services and institutions, such as our healthcare and education, rather than simply throwing money at vanity projects.
She said: “Huge handouts are not necessarily always the answer – unless they are projects that actually help the population in a way you can measure.”
The campaign to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has resonated with thousands of people
Supporters of the campaign to free the British-Iranian aid worker gathered in London in February
Expressing his anger at the EU’s decision to give aid to the Middle Eastern country, Ukip MEP Jonathan Bullock concurred with his colleague: “We shouldn’t be considering giving Iran 50 pence never mind 50million Euros.
“At a time when a British national is imprisoned unjustly in terrible circumstances, the EU sees it fit to offer a multimillion pound gift to the regime which is responsible.
“This is a prime example of why the bureaucrats in Brussels shouldn’t be making our decisions for us. They have woefully misjudged the situation and now we are no closer to getting Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe back home to her family.”
Foreign office minister Alistair Burt arrived in Iran on Friday for talks with Tehran on the incarceration of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, as well as the Iran nuclear deal.
Candles for a vigil held for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe held in February
Richard Ratcliffe stands to protest for the release of his wife
Mr Burt’s agenda will partly be to assess the state of the British-Iranian charity worker’s health after she suffered an intense panic attack.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was rushed to a prison hospital following her re-imprisonment.
Conservative MEP Syed Kamall admitted questions have been raised about the aid.
He said: “The treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is sadly part of a pattern of abuse, violence and persecution.
Margot Parker has long supported the campaign to release Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe
“Its human rights record has deteriorated markedly with appalling treatment of Iranians who take part in protests and demonstrations.
“I know there will be many of my colleagues in the European Parliament who will question why the EU is even considering sending such a grant.”
He added: “We have no quarrel with the Iranian people.
“Therefore the continuing engagement with the Iran regime is necessary to address a broad range of issues, from the preservation of the nuclear deal to the detention of British dual nationals, including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.”
Independent MEP Jonathan Arnott, who defected from Ukip in January this year, added: “We shouldn’t be sending foreign aid to oppressive regimes and it is even worse when it is coming from a European Commission which is highly unaccountable to the British people.”