UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's release

2017-12-09 19:37
An undated image of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. (File, AFP)

An undated image of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. (File, AFP)

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Tehran - Britain's foreign minister visited Iran on Saturday to press for the release of British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe amid accusations at home that one of his gaffes has seriously harmed her case.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson held talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif which also touched on a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers whose future has been thrown into doubt by US President Donald Trump.

Consular cases

"The two sides discussed various matters including economic, banking and trade relations," the Iranian foreign ministry said in a statement.

"The UK foreign secretary said the JCPOA (nuclear deal) is very valuable to the UK and emphasised his country's commitment to its full implementation," it added.

Johnson, who is due to meet President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday, did not speak to reporters.

He released a statement prior to his arrival, saying: "I will stress my grave concerns about our dual national consular cases and press for their release where there are humanitarian grounds to do so".

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian citizen, was arrested at Tehran airport on April 3 2016 after visiting relatives with her young daughter.

Iranian authorities accused her of links to mass protests in 2009, which she denies, and sentenced her to five years in jail for sedition. They do not recognise dual nationality.

New charges

Last month, they filed additional charges of "spreading propaganda" and will present her in court again on Sunday.

Her case has become highly politicised, especially after a "slip of the tongue" by Johnson last month when he stated that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been training journalists in Iran, which has been used by the Iranian authorities to help justify the new charges.

Husband Richard Ratcliffe, who had lobbied to join Johnson on the visit, has raised concerns about his wife's mental health, citing the mounting toll of her prolonged incarceration in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.

The BBC urged Johnson to raise their complaints about "harassment and prosecution" of their Persian-language staff living abroad.


Read more on:    boris johnson  |  uk  |  iran

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