Theresa May presses President Rouhani over jailed British mother in Iran

Posted On: 
21st September 2016

Theresa May has raised the case of a British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran on claims of spying in her first face-to-face meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Theresa May at the 2015 Conservative party conference
PA Images

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was sentenced to five-years in prison on secret charges earlier this month.

Her sentence came as the UK announced its new ambassador to Iran and 12 months on from the reopening of Britain’s embassy in Tehran after it was stormed in 2011.

The Prime Minister brought up Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case during talks with President Rouhani at the UN General Assembly yesterday.

A UK official said: “We think it is important with all the relations we have around the world that we can engage frankly where there are issues that need resolving. Our view is if we are going to have a productive relationship with Iran… then we should all be able to raise such issues and discuss them.”

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent six weeks in solitary confinement after being arrested at Tehran airport on 3 April returning from a holiday with her two-year-old daughter, Gabriella.

Gabriella has since been unable to return home to the UK to her father Richard and has had no contact with her mother since. She is currently staying with her grandparents in Iran after having her passport taken.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was later accused by Tehran of heading a foreign spy network that was planning the “soft overthrow of the Islamic Republic”.

On 9 September, she was sentenced to five-years in jail on secret charges that are thought to include allegations of spying against the Iranian state.

Iran has also recently indicted other dual nationals Homa Hoodfar, a Canadian-Iranian professor, and Siamak Namazi, an American-Iranian businessman.

Mrs May raised Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case in August with her Iranian counterpart President Rouhani during their first phone conversation.

More than 800,000 people have signed a petition – created by Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard – calling for her release.