British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has condemned the illegal detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been held in an Iranian prison since April 2016, after more than a year of her family and supporters urging him to take action on her case.
The foreign secretary also said he was willing to visit her in prison.
Johnson’s comments to a parliamentary select committee come after repeated appeals from Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family and human rights groups, who called for him to speak out on her case and publicly acknowledge that her rights have been violated.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard Ratcliffe thanked the foreign secretary for his condemnation, and went on to clarify that Johnson had incorrectly said that his wife had taught journalism. At the time of her arrest, she was working for the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters Foundation as a program manager, and had been on holiday visiting her parents in Tehran. Thomson Reuters also issued a statement confirming her job title and role. Prior to her job at the foundation, Zaghari-Ratclife worked for the BBC World Service Trust (now BBC Media Action), but not training journalists.
The charity worker is serving a five-year sentence, and the charges against her still remain clear. Authorities have accused her of trying to overthrow the regime.
On October 8, authorities informed her that the Revolutionary Guards had opened a new case against her. If she is found guilty, she could serve another 16 years in jail.
Her family says she is being used as a bargaining chip between the United Kingdom and Iran.
“I have been pushing the [UK] government all along to be clear about what's going on, and pushing the government to be clear about the fact that Nazanin's rights are being abused, and that she didn't do anything,” Richard Ratcliffe told IranWire last month. “I said that a year and a half ago and I say that now. Now I'm also saying the Iranian government should also say her rights are being abused, and that she shouldn't be used in this way.”
Britain and Iran have continued to build business ties throughout her incarceration, led on the British side by Lord Lamont, the country’s Trade Envoy to Iran. US President Trump’s recent refusal to re-certify the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) have also created uncertainty around the future of Iran’s relationship with the other signatories to the deal, which includes Britain.