Husband of jailed British-Iranian woman in Tehran hits out at Foreign Office

Posted On: 
23rd November 2016

The husband of a woman jailed in Iran on charges of spying against the state has said Britain is not doing enough to secure her release.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall
Credit: 
PA Images

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker for the Thomson Reuters Foundation who has dual British and Iranian citizenship, was sentenced to five-years in prison in September on charges of using a “spy network” to overthrow the Iranian regime.

Theresa May raised her situation in her first face-to-face meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the UN General Assembly that same month, while Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said her case was an “utmost priority”, but failed to call for her release.

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

Gabriella has since been unable to return home to the UK and to her father Richard Ratcliffe. She is currently staying with her grandparents in Iran after having her passport taken.

Mr Ratcliffe told the Times: “Actions speak louder than words. The authorities have not bothered to visit Nazanin in prison or Gabriella despite the fact other countries have managed it.

“I haven’t heard any public criticism of the Iranians for what they have put my wife through or any outright calls for her release.”

The Times reports that Mr Johnson did not confirm or deny that a long running argument over an arms deal was behind Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s detention.

Iran claims that Britain owes it around £400m for not completing an arms deal signed with Shah Pahlavi before the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Britain reportedly delivered 185 of the 1,500 Chieftain tanks that Iran purchased, but paused deliveries after the Shah was overthrown.

A European court ruling in 2010 ordered the UK to repay the debt.

“I don’t think the Foreign Office has my wife’s or daughter’s best interest at heart, it is clear there is something else going on and that has been a shock,” Mr Ratcliffe said.

“The Foreign Office is in regular contact with the Iranian government at all levels,” Mr Johnson said.

“It remains a matter that is of the utmost priority for this government.”

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

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