Johnson accused of jeopardising case of Briton jailed in Iran

Johnson accused of jeopardising case of Briton jailed in Iran

2 min read
13 November, 2017
The husband of a British woman imprisoned in Iran has said that his wife discovered lumps in her breasts and he urged government to step up efforts to free her.
Johnson's blunder has triggered calls for his resignation [Getty]
UK Prime Minister Theresa May says she might provide diplomatic protection to a mother jailed in Iran facing an extra five years in prison due to a gaffe by British foreign minister.

Although it is not know if the move would secure the realise of British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe - who has been sentenced to five years in jail - it would put more pressure on Tehran to free the mother-of-one.

The husband of Zaghari-Ratcliffe said on Sunday that the condition of his wife is getting more desperate after she discovered lumps on her breasts. He urged the UK government to step up efforts to free her.

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife had seen a doctor but was on "the verge of a nervous breakdown".

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 38-year-old dual British-Iranian citizen, is serving a five-year sentence for plotting the "soft toppling" of Iran's government.

Her husband spoke by phone on Sunday to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has been under fire for making misleading statements about the case.

Earlier this month, Johnson told lawmakers that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was "teaching people journalism" when she was detained last year.

Her family and her employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, insist she was on vacation taking her toddler daughter to meet relatives in Iran.

Johnson later apologised for his comment, but Iran's state broadcaster said it was an implicit admission of guilt.

On Monday, there were fresh calls for the foreign minister to resign.

Ratcliffe said his wife had been brought to tears by "lies" about her case on Iranian television.

On Sunday, British Environment Secretary Michael Gove said "I don't know" when asked what Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing in Iran.

Family and friends have said the confusion has put Zaghari-Ratcliffe at risk of a longer prison sentence.

Johnson's blunder has triggered calls for his resignation.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said Prime Minister Theresa May should fire Johnson for "embarrassing and undermining our country with his incompetence and colonial throwback views and putting our citizens at risk."

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said on Monday Johnson must step down if Zaghari-Ratcliffe is jailed for five more years due to the foreign minister's comments. 

Richard Ratcliffe said he did not think his wife's case would be helped by resignations.

He has urged Johnson to travel with him to Tehran to press for her release and said on Sunday the foreign secretary was seriously considering the suggestion.