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Husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to meet PM Boris Johnson amid ongoing Iran detention

Richard Ratcliffe and his daughter are appealing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 January, 2020

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The husband of jailed dual-national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to help secure her release.
The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian dual national and mother who was jailed in Iran four years ago, will meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss the efforts to secure her release.

Richard Ratcliffe will meet Prime Minister Johnson in Downing Street on Thursday, Press Association reported. 

"He needs to take responsibility for Nazanin’s case, for upholding the promise he made to us to leave no stone unturned," Ratcliffe told BBC Radio 4. 

Ratcliffe
 is expected to ask the prime minister to treat the case as a "priority". 

Prime Minister Johnson has received criticism over his handling of the case, with some accusing him of adding to Iran's case against Nazanin.

The British-Iranian woman was arrested during a trip to Iran in 2016 and sentenced to five years of jail after being accused of spying. She has consistently denied the allegation.

Hopes of her release have been further diminished with an uptick in tension between Iran and the United States. The killing of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani this month by US drone strike was met with Iranian attacks on a US base in Iraq.

Her husband and their five-year-old daughter Gabriella stood outside Downing Street in London in December along with some 40 other protesters to sing Christmas carols as part of a campaign calling for her release.

People held placards reading "Boris please help free Nazanin" as others filled a Christmas card addressed to Boris, compelling him to take action.

"Please get her home," Ratcliffe pleaded with Johnson, he told PA news agency.

"The message is for you to stand by the promise you made me, that you would leave no stone unturned.

"Please take responsibility for Nazanin's case and do what you can to get her and others home."

In October the couple decided to send their five-year-old daughter to him in the UK to start school, a decision he called "bittersweet".

Speaking about his daughter, who is in the UK said: "She misses her mum, she misses her granny. We have had a number of nights where she has cried herself to sleep."

"But luckily she has had a teddy bear her mummy had given her, and granny had given her, and kept one under each arm."

Ratcliffe, 40, said that leaving her mother was a difficult experience for the child, and left her "sensitive to abandonment".

"Gabriella said that going to Evin prison to visit her mother sometimes 'gave her a washing machine in her tunny'. She would linger in the visiting room, going back again and again for extra kisses. Even now she remains sensitive to abandonment, and hates saying goodbyes."

He told the Sunday Times that she would tell her mum, "mummy, prison is a nasty place. It keeps you away from me".

In 2017 Boris Johnson was the recipient of intense criticism after he made a misleading statement about Zaghari-Ratcliffe, when he was foreign secretary at the time.

He said that her conviction for spying on Iran was an injustice, but added that she was "simply teaching journalism" - a statement both her family and her employee were quick to say was untrue.

Three days later Zaghari-Ratcliffe was summoned before an unscheduled court hearing, where Johnson's words were cited as proof she was engaged in "propaganda against the regime".

Her husband said at the time: "Nazanin was on holiday in Iran with Gabriella when she was abducted. Nazanin is not being held for anything she has personally done. It is deeply misleading by both governments to suggest or even half imply otherwise."

"We demand a clear statement from the foreign secretary to correct his mistake - in parliament and in Tehran at the earliest opportunity."

An FCO spokesman at the time attempted a clarification: "While criticising the Iranian case against Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the foreign secretary sought to explain that even the most extreme set of unproven Iranian allegations against her were insufficient reason for her detention and treatment."

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