Boris Johnson can say what he likes but it is starting to seem that he has some kind of grudge against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
The British-Iranian woman, who was imprisoned in Iran in April 2016 on an apparently trumped-up charge, has been seeking the UK government’s help to release her for years.
But in this effort, Johnson seems to be her nemesis.
In November 2017, as foreign secretary, he told MPs Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been imprisoned for “simply teaching people journalism” – boneheadedly suggesting that she had committed the very act for which the Iranian authorities had imprisoned her.
In fact, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was a project manager with a charity and was in Iran to visit her family for Nowruz, the Persian New Year. She is not a journalist and has never trained them.
As a result of Johnson’s imbecility, she was dragged back to court and threatened with a further five years in jail.
Soon after, it was announced that the UK would pay Iran £400 million that is owed to that country but could not be paid because of international sanctions.
That money suddenly became available, in the opinion of many, because Johnson’s career was in danger and it might make the Iranian authorities more open to the idea of releasing Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Now we discover that after almost three years, the money has not moved – and that Johnson might be stalling because he fears offending Donald Trump.
What does he have to do with it?
Lawyers for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe say a High Court hearing on whether the payment may be carried out has been delayed until November 3 – the day after the US presidential election.
This suggests that Johnson wants to know whether Trump will still be president before taking any action.
According to The Independent:
Donald Trump has taken a hard line against Iran, including breaking an international agreement on the country’s nuclear programme signed by his predecessor. The US also takes a dim view of its allies working with Iran and has moved to try and section [I think it means sanction] European companies that do business there.
So Boris Johnson is admitting that, as long as he is prime minister, the UK will be an international weakling.
Perhaps he thinks that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has spent so long in prison now – her sentence is due to end in April next year – that it won’t make much of a difference.
One wonders whether he bothered to think of her in prison, while he enjoyed his luxury holiday in the tropics last Christmas – or even if he spared her a thought while he was “glamping” (I believe it is called) in Scotland. It seems doubtful. He is far too interested in himself.
Previous – Tory – prime ministers would have threatened war against any nation holding a British subject prisoner if they felt it was unwarranted, and have done so.
But Johnson is happy to throw his fellow Brits to the dogs so he can suck up to someone he thinks is bigger than he is.
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