EXCL Boris Johnson has still not met family of jailed British-Iranian, Nazanin Ratcliffe
Boris Johnson has not met the family or constituency MP of a British-Iranian woman currently serving a five-year sentence in a notorious Iranian prison on charges of spying against the state.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a worker with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at Imam Khomeini airport in April 2016 while travelling home to Britain with her then 22-month-old daughter after visiting relatives.
In September last year she was found guilty of using a “spy network” to overthrow the Iranian regime, and an appeal against the decision was rejected by the Iranian supreme court.
Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has been unable to travel to Iran, where his daughter is staying with her grandparents. He launched a petition calling for his wife's release, which currently holds more than 919,000 signatures.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s local MP, Tulip Siddiq, said despite repeated attempts to discuss Ms Ratcliffe’s case with Mr Johnson she had not yet spoken to the Foreign Secretary about the 38-year-old’s situation.
She also claimed, in an interview with PoliticsHome before her Westminster Hall debate on British prisoners in Iran later today, that Mr Johnson has not met members of the Ratcliffe family.
“He’s never met the family, he’s never met with me, he’s never responded to any of my letters,” the Hampstead and Kilburn MP said.
“I mean, it could be that maybe this isn’t important enough for them.
“I don’t know if that seems unrealistic - that it’s just not important. Or is it easier to just avoid?”
Theresa May raised Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case with President Rouhani during a meeting at the UN last year and during their first phone call since the Tory leader entered No10.
PoliticsHome understands that Tobias Ellwood spoke to Ms Siddiq about the situation while he was a minister in the Foreign Office.
But Ms Siddiq said of the conversation: “I think he’s known as a hero to everyone else. It was not a productive meeting.”
Iran does not recognise dual citizenship, meaning Ms Ratcliffe does not have consular access in the country.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are deeply concerned by reports that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s supreme court appeal has been rejected, while Iran continues to refuse the UK access to her.
“The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have both raised Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case with their counterparts in Iran. The Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, has spoken to the Iranian Ambassador in London recently to express our continued concern.
“We have been supporting Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family since we were first made aware of her arrest. Mr Burt has also met her husband this month to assure him that we will continue to do all we can for her.
“Our ambassador has repeatedly requested access to her so we can be assured of her welfare. However, Iran does not recognise Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s dual Iranian-British nationality. It considers her to be an Iranian citizen and refuses the UK access to her on that basis.
“We continue to press the Iranians for access and for due process to be followed, and are ready to help get her daughter back safely to the UK if requested.”
Ms Siddiq will today call on ministers to do more to condemn the treatment of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe. She suffered hair loss and was suicidal after a period in solitary confinement. Her daughter, now three-years-old, is allowed limited visitation rights.