Brexit Party MEPs abstain on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe vote

Fury as Brexit MEPs abstain on vote to release Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from Iran jail
2 min read
20 September, 2019
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed when visiting Iran with her child.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held since 2016 [Getty]
The UK's Brexit Party have sparked outrage after MEPs abstained on a vote on Iran's jailing of European citizens, including detained British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

A resolution brought forward by the European parliament called for Iran to "immediately and unconditionally" release all dual nationals and detained human rights campaigners.

This includes jailed British Thomson Reuters Foundation project manager Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was detained at Tehran airport when she was due to travel back to the UK with her daughter in 2016.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was charged with spying, but she and her family deny all charges.

The Brexit Party MEPs were among 46 voters who abstained on the motion, drawing anger in the UK.

Among the MEPs were Anne Widecombe, Annunziata Rees-Mogg, Matthew Patten, Ben Habib, Martin Daubney and Belinda de Lucy.

Brexit Party spokesman Gawain Towler told The Independent that "it would be incompatible with what we believe, to assume that the EU is the right place or the most effective tool with which to put pressure on the Iranian government".

"And we could not in all honesty and in all decency say the EU is the best forum for that, so we abstained."

Labour MP David Lammy tweeted an angry response to members of the right-wing, anti-EU party.

"MEPs failed to vote for a resolution calling on Iran to release imprisoned EU-Iranian nationals, including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe," he tweeted.

"You call yourself patriots but you will not stand up for Brits imprisoned abroad. Shame on you."

Iran has jailed a number of dual nationals and foreigners visiting the country, with critics accusing Tehran of holding them hostage.

An Iranian appeals court recently upheld a 10-year jail sentence against British Council staffer Aras Amiri for "cultural infiltration".

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