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Boris Johnson urges Iran to release Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘permanently’ after ankle tag is removed

Tammy Hughes
·4-min read

Watch: PM calls for Nazanin's permanent release

Boris Johnson has urged Iran to release Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe “permanently” after it was revealed that she has finally been freed after serving a five-year jail term in Iran, but now faces a new court case.

The British-Iranian dual national, 42, was jailed in 2016 over allegations of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government, which she strongly denies.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle tag has been removed and her house arrest has come to an end, however it is unclear if she can leave the country because of a new court case next Sunday.

The Prime Minister said on Twitter: “Pleased to see the removal of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle tag, but her continued confinement remains totally unacceptable.

<p>Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe</p> (PA Wire)

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

(PA Wire)

“She must be released permanently so she can return to her family in the UK, and we continue to do all we can to achieve this.”

On Sunday, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard Ratcliffe said his wife was “genuinely happy” but added that they “clearly remain in the middle of this government game of chess.”

The British aid worker has spent the last year under house arrest at her parents’ house in Tehran due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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According her constituency MP Tulip Siddiq, who has been in touch with the family, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s first trip outside the house will be to see her grandmother.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be allowed to return to the UK.

He tweeted: “We welcome the removal of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle tag but Iran’s continued treatment of her is intolerable. She must be allowed to return to the UK as soon as possible to be reunited with her family.”

Jeremy Hunt, foreign secretary between July 2018 and July 2019, said on Twitter: “Beyond cruel to toy with an innocent mother & six year old child in this way.”

He tagged the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif saying: “Let her come home.”

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Kate Allen, director at Amnesty International UK, said: “This is such bittersweet news.

“After all Nazanin’s been through this feels like yet another example of the calculated cruelty of the Iranian authorities.

“The Iranian authorities have an appalling record of playing cruel games – not just with Nazanin, but also with other UK nationals and numerous people held in the country on politically-motivated grounds.

“Nazanin was convicted after a deeply unfair trial the first time around and this spurious new charge and possible trial is clearly designed to delay her release and exert yet more pressure on Nazanin and her family.

“This won’t be over until Nazanin has her passport and is on a flight heading home to the UK.

“The UK Government must not take this lying down. All the past talk of not leaving any stone unturned to secure Nazanin’s release must now be translated into very serious diplomatic action.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport while travelling to show her young daughter Gabriella, who is now of school age, to her parents in April 2016.

Her husband, an accountant from north London, previously revealed that Gabriella was counting down the days until her mother returned.

He explained: “She’s got a calendar that she crosses off each day.

“She’s in that sense counting down and I think probably still at this point treating it like an advent calendar, so the days will come off and then the magic delivery will happen.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard and daughter GabriellaFree Nazanin campaign/AFP via Ge
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard and daughter GabriellaFree Nazanin campaign/AFP via Ge

“It is shocking that what started off as a mum and a baby on holiday could be allowed to last for five years.

“There’s no ambiguity in that, that’s just staggering.”

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a statement: “The Foreign Secretary and FCDO remain in close contact with Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family, and continue to provide our support.

“We do not accept Iran detaining dual British nationals as diplomatic leverage. The regime must end its arbitrary detention of all dual British nationals.

“We continue to do everything we can to secure the release of arbitrarily detained dual British nationals so that they can be reunited with their loved ones.”

Watch: Sister-in-law of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe - time for Government to recognise it as hostage situation

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