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Mon, 6 April 2020

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Husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe calls for urgent meeting with Boris Johnson amid growing tensions with Iran

Husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe calls for urgent meeting with Boris Johnson amid growing tensions with Iran
2 min read

The husband of jailed charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has called for an urgent meeting with Boris Johnson in the wake of growing tensions with Iran.

Richard Ratcliffe, whose British-Iranian wife has been detained by the regime for over three years, said her case was being used as a "major chess piece" as he urged Boris Johnson to do more to protect dual national prisoners.

Tensions between Iran and the west have ratcheted up following the assassination by America of General Qassem Suleimani in a drone strike on Baghdad airport last Friday.

Mr Ratcliffe said his wife was "scared and panicking", believing she would be forced to serve her full five-year jail term for alleged spying, or face even harsher punishment.

"Her first concerns were what is going to happen to the American prisoners," he said. "Then what will happen to us.

"Prior to Christmas we have our parole rejected, so it wasn't looking good. She said to me she didn't expect to get out before the end of her sentence, and was worried they were going to add another sentence, which they have been threatening."

He added: "We are one of their major chess pieces. Increased tensions and anger and a real volitility now will not be good news for any of those who are held."

Mr Johnson had called for Iran to release Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe during a meeting with president Hassan Rouhani in September last year, but hopes of an early release have now been dashed.

Speaking in the wake of the assasination of General Soleimani, Mr Johnson called for "de-escalation" but said he would "not lament" the death of the Iranian who he accused of playing a "leading role" in the deaths of thousands of civilians.

Meanwhile, speaking to the Andrew Marr programme on Sunday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called on Iran to free Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, accusing the country of being "increasingly callous and cold-hearted" in their treatment of dual nationals.

Responding to the remarks, Mr Ratcliffe said: "It is really important that it is made clear publicly, but also privately to President Trump and the American administration, that protecting innocent prisoners, the hostages, who are held has to be front and centre of all their considerations.

"President Trump has done a pretty good job of getting Americans home recently. This is going to make it a lot harder."

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