UK condemns Iran over extra jail term for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab slam Iran for imposing ‘totally inhumane and wholly unjustified’ extra year in prison for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe as the PM says he is ‘working very hard’ to secure her release

  • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been given an additional one year jail term in Iran
  • Dominic Raab said the sentence was ‘totally inhumane and wholly unjustified’
  • Boris Johnson said the UK Government is ‘working very hard’ to secure release  

Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab today condemned the Iranian government after Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was handed an additional one-year jail term. 

Mr Raab said the sentence is ‘totally inhumane and wholly unjustified’ as he demanded Tehran release the British-Iranian mother of one ‘immediately’ so she can finally return to her family in the UK. 

Mr Johnson insisted the Government is ‘working very hard’ to secure her release as he said officials and ministers will now ‘redouble our efforts’. 

The charity worker has been given an additional jail term having already completed a five-year sentence on charges levied by Iranian authorities, the last year of which was spent under house arrest due to the pandemic.

Her lawyer Hojjat Kermani said she received the second sentence on a charge of spreading ‘propaganda against the system’ for participating in a protest in front of the Iranian Embassy in London in 2009.

As well as the one-year jail term she has also been banned from leaving the country for a year.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, of north London, was first detained in 2016 as Iranian authorities made widely refuted spying allegations.

Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab today condemned the Iranian government after Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was handed an additional one-year jail term. Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is pictured in Tehran in March this year after she was released from house arrest

Dominic Raab said the sentence is ‘totally inhumane and wholly unjustified’ as he demanded Tehran release the British-Iranian mother of one ‘immediately’ so she can return to her family in the UK

Mr Johnson, pictured during a visit to a warehouse in Wrexham today, insisted the Government is ‘working very hard’ to secure her release as he said officials and ministers will ‘redouble our efforts’.

Mr Raab, the Foreign Secretary, said in a statement: ‘This is a totally inhumane and wholly unjustified decision.

‘We continue to call on Iran to release Nazanin immediately so she can return to her family in the UK. We continue to do all we can to support her.’

Mr Johnson told reporters: ‘Obviously we will have to study the detail of what the Iranian authorities are saying.

‘I don’t think it is right at all that Nazanin should be sentenced to any more time in jail.

‘I think it is wrong that she is there in the first place and we will be working very hard to secure her release from Iran, her ability to return to her family here in the UK, just as we work for all our dual national cases in Iran.

‘The Government will not stop, we will redouble our efforts, and we are working with our American friends on this issue as well.’ 

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe completed her first sentence in March but was returned to court later in the month where she was tried on new charges of ‘propaganda against Iran’.

In a statement, her MP Tulip Siddiq, who represents Hampstead and Kilburn, said: ‘This is a terrible blow for Nazanin and her family, who have been hoping and praying that she would soon be free to come home.

‘It is devastating to see Nazanin once again being abusively used as bargaining chip.

‘We’ve been told the Government has been working behind the scenes to secure Nazanin’s release.

‘These efforts have clearly failed and we deserve an urgent explanation from minsters about what has happened.’

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard Ratcliffe told the BBC the decision was ‘clearly a negotiating tactic’ by the Iranian authorities, adding she had not yet been summoned to prison at this point.

Her lawyer is planning to appeal, the BBC said. 

Some observers have linked Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case to a long-standing debt Iran alleges it is owed by the UK.

Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt questioned why the issue of the IMS (International Military Services) debt owed to Iran – thought to be as much as £400 million over the non-delivery of tanks in 1979 – had not been dealt with.

He said: ‘This is so distressing. Iran’s cruelty seems to know no bounds. Impossible to imagine what the family are going through today. Key question is why the IMS debt issue is still not settled given the UK accepts that it owes this money?’

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