Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband says Boris Johnson gaffe boosted Iran 'propaganda'

Posted On: 
19th June 2019

The husband of jailed mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has accused Boris Johnson of “obviously” making his wife’s plight worse - just hours after the Tory frontrunner denied blundering during his time as Foreign Secretary.

Boris Johnson met with Ms Zaghari Ratcliffe's husband Richard during his time as Foreign Secretary
Credit: 
PA

Richard Ratcliffe, whose British-Iranian wife has been detained for over three years, slammed the Conservative leadership hopeful after he insisted comments he made during his time as Foreign Secretary didn't "make any difference" to her sentence.

Mr Johnson had told MPs in 2017 that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been in Iran "teaching people journalism" - despite her family's insistence that she was visiting relatives.

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The comments were later used during a trial by Iranian authorities against Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Asked about the gaffe during a BBC leadership hustings on Tuesday night, Mr Johnson accused those criticising his remarks of "exculpating" the Iranian regime.

"In that case, it didn't, I think, make any difference," he said.

"If you point the finger at the UK, all you are doing is exculpating those who are truly responsible, which is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard."

But Mr Ratcliffe, who has joined his wife in a hunger strike to raise awareness of her case, said the comments had had a "traumatic effect" on her.

"Of course they had consequences," he told BBC Radio 4.

"The main difference they had was obviously they enabled a propaganda campaign that was run against Nazanin.

"We saw, a couple of weeks... afterwards, [Iran] accusing her of being a spy and the Foreign Secretary approved it, which obviously had traumatic effects for her.

"It was used to justify a second court case, probably caused a second court case, was used to justify it."

Mr Ratcliffe also accused Mr Johnson of suggesting that a £400m debt the Iranian government claims is owed by the UK was set to be paid in a bid to secure her release.

"Look, obviously it's the Iranian authorities that have imprisoned Nazanin and the Iranian authorities have a practice of hostage diplomacy,” he said.

“But at the same time, you know, the Foreign Secretary's words then were important and promises have consequences.

"Perhaps the bigger problem he did was when essentially, the press were briefed that that money was going to be paid and expectations were raised and he said ‘no stone would be unturned’.

"And then that didn't happen, obviously we remain imprisoned, others have been taken since and you know, we've gone from 'no stone unturned' to 'not my fault'."