December 09, 2017
Foreign secretary will talk about his ‘grave concerns’ for jailed British-Iranian woman and other dual-nationals

Boris Johnson arrives in Iran to discuss release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Boris Johnson has arrived in Tehran, where he is expected to lobby for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian woman who has been imprisoned there for nearly two years.
The foreign secretary landed in the Iranian capital on Saturday morning, where he will meet his counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to discuss his “grave concerns” for Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other dual-nationals.
Johnson will also meet Iran’’s president, Hassan Rouhani, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s supreme national security council, and other officials, the state news agency Irna said on Saturday.
The visit will be Johnson’s first to the country and only the third by a British foreign minister to Iran in the last 14 years.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been told she will appear in court on Sunday facing new charges relating to espionage that could result in her five-year sentence being extended by as much as 10 years.
Johnson has denied these additional charges are due to his error in telling a foreign affairs select committee in November that she had been in Iran to train journalists.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016 with her young daughter, a British national, and accused of attempting to orchestrate a “soft overthrow” of the Islamic republic.
She has always maintained her innocence and said she was visiting family. Her employer, Thomson Reuters Foundation, has said she was not there to work and was only on holiday.
Johnson has since apologised for the mistake and recently met her British husband, Richard Ratcliffe, who said he was “waiting on tenterhooks and biting his nails” about the foreign secretary’s visit.
He told the Guardian: “I’m really pleased he is there in time for Nazanin’s trial and waiting to see what will happen, and trying not to have too clear expectations at all.”
Johnson said in a statement prior to his arrival that he hoped his visit would be constructive. The conflict in Yemen and securing access for humanitarian aid were top priorities, he said, as well as underlining the UK’s continued support for Iran’s nuclear deal.
He said: “We will also discuss our bilateral relationship and I will stress my grave concerns about our dual-national consular cases and press for their release where there are humanitarian grounds to do so.”
He also said that the relationship with Iran was not straightforward but that dialogue was key to managing differences and making progress even under difficult conditions.
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