Johnson calls Iran after blunder on jailed Briton

Share Button

Boris Johnson has called Iran’s foreign minister amid fears his blunder could lengthen the sentence of a British woman imprisoned in the country.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been jailed in Iran since April last year, and her husband has called on Mr Johnson to correct his remarks after Iran’s regime used his words as justification for continuing to detain his wife.

Last week, Mr Johnson told the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was “teaching people journalism” in Iran before her arrest.

Both her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, and her employers, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, strongly dispute this, saying the British-Iranian national was in the country on holiday with her young daughter.

Remarks made to a Commons committee by Boris Johnson may add years to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's prison sentence sentence, campaigners are claiming.Video:Boris Johnson’s words may increase woman’s jail term

Three days after Mr Johnson’s comments, the 38-year-old was hit with fresh charges of spreading propaganda against the country’s regime, which could double her sentence.

She was initially arrested as she attempted to return to London in 2016 on accusations of plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime.

The row has led to calls for Mr Johnson to consider his position should Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker, have her sentenced increased.

Former Conservative minister Anna Soubry branded the Foreign Secretary’s actions “appalling”, adding: “In ‘normal’ times Boris Johnson would have been sacked long ago.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, husband Richard Ratcliffe and their child.

Image:The 38-year-old with her husband Richard and their daughter Gabriella

But Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, dismissed the criticism as a plot to discredit his Cabinet colleague.

Asked whether Mr Johnson should be sacked over the controversy, Dr Fox told Sky News: “I don’t believe it is a serious gaffe.

“I think people in the Iranian regime, which is a very brutal regime, are using this as an excuse to hold a UK citizen in the most tenuous, if not illegal, circumstances.”

Liam Fox

Image:Liam Fox defended Boris Johnson over the controversy

In his defence of the Foreign Secretary, Dr Fox also urged caution amid the backlash at Mr Johnson’s actions.

He added: “The Foreign Secretary was making very clear at that select committee that what was happening at the present time is totally unacceptable, that the behaviour of the regime is internationally unacceptable.

“We should be giving support to him in that because that is the best was to put pressure on the regime.

“I think what we’re seeing here is an attempt to discredit the Foreign Secretary without thinking, first of all, what the impact may be and what excuses it may give to the Iranian regime to act improperly.

“We always have to be very circumspect about what we say in a free society about the implications it may have elsewhere.”

Mr Ratcliffe, whose daughter has not been allowed to return to the UK while her mother is in jail, has also suggested the Foreign Secretary should visit his wife in Tehran.

Mr Johnson is expected to appear in Parliament later on Tuesday.

Originally posted here: 

Johnson calls Iran after blunder on jailed Briton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *