Boris Johnson demands 'immediate release' of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Boris Johnson demands ‘immediate release’ of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe during phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as PM says her ‘continued confinement remains completely unacceptable’

  • PM Boris Johnson spoke to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani this afternoon 
  • Mr Johnson demanded the ‘immediate release’ of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
  • The PM said her ‘continued confinement remains completely unacceptable’ 

Boris Johnson today demanded the ‘immediate release’ of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe during a phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. 

Downing Street said Mr Johnson had told Mr Rouhani that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ‘continued confinement remains completely unacceptable’. 

The PM said that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘must be allowed to return to her family in the UK’. 

The intervention comes after the 42-year-old British-Iranian’s five year sentence in Iran ended, but the prospect of fresh court proceedings means the ‘jeopardy’ over her future freedom remains. 

Hopes were raised on Sunday that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ordeal was reaching the ‘endgame’ after being released from house arrest and having her ankle tag removed.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, of north London, who was detained in 2016 as Iranian authorities made widely refuted spying allegations, finished the latter part of her sentence under house arrest due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Boris Johnson has raised Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ‘completely unacceptable’ case directly with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Mr Johnson told Mr Rouhani that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘must be allowed to return to her family in the UK’

Downing Street said in a statement: ‘The Prime Minister spoke to Iranian President Rouhani this afternoon.

‘The Prime Minister raised the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other British-Iranian Dual Nationals detained in Iran and demanded their immediate release. 

‘He said that while the removal of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle monitor was welcome, her continued confinement remains completely unacceptable and she must be allowed to return to her family in the UK.’ 

Mr Johnson and Mr Rouhani also discussed the status of the Iran nuclear deal. 

Number 10 said: ‘The Prime Minister also stressed that while the UK remains committed to making the Iran nuclear deal a success, Iran must stop all its nuclear activity that breaches the terms of the JCPoA and come back into compliance. 

‘He stressed the importance of Iran seizing the opportunity presented by the United States’ willingness to return to the deal if Iran comes back into compliance.

‘The Prime Minister underlined the need for Iran to cease wider destabilising activity and be a positive force in the Gulf region.’

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, held a vigil, along with the couple’s six-year-old daughter Gabriella, outside the Iranian embassy in central London on Monday.

Mr Ratcliffe attempted to deliver an Amnesty International petition of more than 160,000 signatures calling for his wife’s immediate release, but was turned away by someone speaking over the building’s intercom.

A small group of protesters stood in front of the embassy holding placards carrying the messages ‘Free Nazanin’ and ‘still not forgotten’. 

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and the couple’s daughter Gabriella held a vigil outside the Iranian Embassy in London on Monday

Speaking to the press, Mr Ratcliffe said the recent developments in his wife’s situation were ‘slightly better news than was expected’ but highlighted that she was still being ‘threatened’ with another court case in Iran next week. 

Explaining the purpose of Monday’s protest, he said: ‘I wanted to do something just to say listen, she’s not forgotten. We’re still going to keep battling until she’s home.’ 

He added: ‘It is still the Iranian authorities that are holding Nazanin. They are now holding her even after the end of her sentence. That remains outrageous.’    

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker who was employed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, has strongly denied the widely refuted allegations that she was plotting to overthrow the Islamic Republic’s government.

She was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport while taking their daughter Gabriella to see her parents in April 2016. 

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