Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces fresh charges: what is the UK doing to help her?

The husband of jailed British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has urged Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to prioritise his wife’s case when he meets Iran’s foreign minister today.

The 40-year-old mother of one was detained in Iran in April 2016 for allegedly seeking a “soft overthrow” of the Islamic republic. She insists she was only in the country to introduce her daughter to her parents, who live in Tehran.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been told she now faces new charges and will return to court within a week.

“[She] is bewildered and outraged about how she could have possibly done anything while sitting in prison,” her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “Her parents are obviously deeply traumatised and confused. For all of us this has gone on for so long … it’s just such a rabbit hole.” 

He said his wife’s case and those of other dual nationals imprisoned in Iran should be top of Johnson’s priority list when he meets his Iranian counterpart in Brussels, where they are due to discuss the Iran nuclear deal.

The foreign secretary came under fire in November for erroneously claiming that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was training journalists in Iran. Johnson met with her husband that month before visiting Iran, but “little progress has been made since then”, says The Guardian.

The couple’s MP, Labour’s Tulip Siddiq, attended the meeting with Johnson last year, but recently said she believes the Zaghari-Ratcliffes are being stonewalled by the Foreign Office.

So what is the UK government doing?

The Foreign Office said Johnson would raise all the UK’s Iranian consular cases at today’s meeting. Prime Minister Theresa May also urged Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to work towards releasing British-Iranians “on humanitarian grounds” during a phone conversation on Sunday.

A Foreign Office spokesperson told The Guardian: “We will continue to approach each case in a way that we judge is most likely to secure the outcome we all want. Therefore we will not be providing a running commentary on every twist and turn.”

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