Tag Archives: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

As Nazanin ends 15-day hunger strike over imprisonment, Johnson tries to shift the blame

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Boris Johnson really is a blight on the United Kingdom and an embarrassment internationally.

The Tory leadership candidate – who may become prime minister on July 22 – has tried to wriggle out from his responsibility for worsening the plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been imprisoned in Iran on a false charge of spying since 2016.

He actually had the nerve to say that those criticising him are trying to excuse the Iranian authorities who wrongly locked her up!

For clarity (and this is according to Sky News): “As foreign secretary, he incorrectly stated that she was “teaching people journalism” in Iran despite relatives insisting she was visiting family. Mr Johnson’s comments were seized on by the Tehran regime and used against the charity worker, who remains in prison.”

Iranian officials cited his words as evidence that she had engaged in “propaganda against the regime”.

Mr Johnson told Sky News: “I feel sorry for her, for her daughter, for her husband Richard and I’ve said this many, many times. I feel a deep sense of anguish for what she has been going through.

“When it comes to responsibility for what she is suffering I think that is incredibly important that we in the UK do not unwittingly give aid and succour to the people who are really responsible – which is not the Foreign Office, not the former foreign secretary, and no one in London is responsible for incarcerating Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

“The people who are responsible are the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and anything you do to exculpate them is, I think, a great shame.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her husband Richard have both just ended a simultaneous 15-day hunger strike in protest against her imprisonment. Mr Ratcliffe hit back at the Tory leadership candidate, according to The Observer:

“Of course it’s not all [Johnson’s] fault,” said Mr Ratcliffe. “Clearly we are camped here [outside the Iranian embassy] because the Iranian authorities are imprisoning Nazanin, but he should take responsibility for his mistakes because they have consequences.

“Not just the gaffe – the failure to apologise afterwards clearly made things worse.

“I think it’s bad for a candidate not to take responsibility for their mistakes because the most important thing for a prime minister is to take responsibility for their country.”

With the election in which he hopes to become Tory leader yet to take place, one hopes the Conservative Party’s membership pays attention to this stain on the character of this candidate.

One fears they may ignore it. If so, will it be another clear indication that Tories are racists?

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Remember Nazanin? After Tories forgot her, London’s Labour Mayor has called for her to be freed

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Fair play to Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Mayor of London, for bringing the plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe back to public attention.

Nazanin, as you should well recall, is a charity worker who was jailed in 2016 on trumped-up charges of trying to engineer a “soft” revolt against the Iranian regime, when in fact she had been celebrating that country’s New Year with family members who live there.

Boris Johnson, as UK Foreign Secretary, made matters infinitely worse for her when he stupidly suggested that the Iranian authorities’ claims were right and she had been training journalists.

He travelled to Iran to try to secure Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release but instead only succeeded in promising to hand over nearly half a billion pounds that the UK had been withholding from Iran’s rulers since the 1970s.

I seem to recall that he expected to receive Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe in return but that hasn’t happened. What a buffoon.

Today – December 26, 2018 – is her 40th birthday. Husband Richard Ratcliffe issued a joint statement with London Mayor Sadiq Khan to mark the date.

They said: “Nazanin has been wrongly detained in an Iranian prison for over two years. She has done nothing wrong, has broken no laws. The charges against her are completely false.

“She is innocent and should not be kept in prison, separated for so long from her family and her young daughter. While she’s imprisoned, Nazanin continues to suffer both physically and mentally.

“We, and indeed the whole country, know what a travesty of justice it is that Nazanin continues to be detained. Her case, and also those of other dual-nationality prisoners being wrongly held in Iran, have rightly attracted global interest and deep concern.

“London is home to a large Iranian community who make a valuable contribution to this great, diverse city. Together, we are united in calling on the Iranian authorities to release Nazanin immediately along with the others who are being wrongly detained, to allow them to return home and be reunited with their loved ones.”

The appeal –

– has attracted support on the social media:

The Iranian authorities will do whatever they want, of course.

They know they have a source of leverage against the UK government, and have already used it to their advantage.

The reminder that British political organisations have not forgotten her is welcome – even new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has raised the issue again with the Iranians.

But I think the UK will need a lot more leverage of its own before she is returned to her husband and family. Let us hope I am mistaken.

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No respite for Nazanin

What a shame.

This was nothing to do with efforts by the Conservative government to negotiate the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from the Iranian prison where she has been unjustly held for so long on false charges.

She had been released for three days to see her daughter, and it had been hoped that this release would be extended. This has not happened.

Just think – if Boris Johnson had been capable of doing his job properly, she could have been back in the UK before Christmas.

Now Mr Johnson is on the backbenches and one has to wonder whether he is even capable of acting responsibly as a constituency MP. Can anyone provide information on this?

And the title of Foreign Secretary has now fallen to Jeremy Hunt, who seems to prefer hobnobbing with murderous dictators, rather than helping UK citizens.

It seems Mr Johnson set the bar so low that Mr Hunt isn’t even trying.

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe may be released early – and it’s nothing to do with Boris Johnson

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

At least, that’s the impression This Writer is getting from the announcement today (December 21).

It seems Mrs Zaghari Ratcliffe, will be deemed eligible for early release by the Iranian judiciary, as she has served one-third of her prison sentence.

She was detained by the authorities in Iran last year, on charges of trying to incite a “soft” revolt against the Iranian regime by training journalists, when she was trying to return home after a holiday there.

The announcement is a clear snub to UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who recently visited Iran to try to get politicians there to release Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The judiciary in Iran, like that in the UK, is separate from politicians there – there is a separation of powers which means that politicians will have had nothing to do with the decision.

So what good was Boris Johnson?

All he has done, it seems to This Writer, is make a catastrophic mistake that made Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s situation much worse – by inaccurately claiming he understand that she had been training journalists – and fail to improve matters despite a highly-publicised visit to Iran for that purpose.

Perhaps further information will emerge to suggest that Mr Johnson did have an influence, but in the meantime:

He was incompetent and then he was ineffectual. Boris Johnson should quit.


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Boris Johnson has failed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and should lose his job

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

This is shameful and humiliating – to the UK as a nation.

Here’s the story:

The Brit mum jailed in Iran over spying allegations will be hauled to court next month on a second charge of “spreading propaganda”.

Iranian authorities have told Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 38, she will appear in court on 10 December.

She has been held by Tehran since April 2016 after being accused of spying – a charge she denies.

Richard Ratcliffe said she had now been told she would appear on a second charge of “spreading propaganda”.

The full details of the allegations against Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe have never been made fully public.

Speaking in Westminster on 1 November, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appeared to contradict her account when he said she had been training journalists there.

Four days later, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was recalled to court in Iran and his remark cited as evidence against her, prompting fears her five-year sentence could be extended.

Source: Brit mum jailed in Iran faces court over further charges after Boris Johnson gaffe

And here’s an appropriate comment:

Agreed. It’s time for Mr Johnson to go.


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UK is defying international sanctions to pay Iran more than £400m. Nothing to do with saving Boris Johnson’s career…

Boris Johnson faced calls to resign over his gaffe about Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe [Image: Reuters].

Isn’t it amazing how the Tories can coincidentally find huge amounts of money when they’re really struggling?

In this case, it was around £450 million that had been put into a bank account controlled by the High Court by the Labour government in 2002. The money is legitimately owed to Iran, but couldn’t be handed over because that country is subject to international sanctions.

So, what has changed since 2002?

Absolutely nothing. Oh – apart from the fact that Boris Johnson’s career is in danger because of his complete and utter incompetence in the case of a UK citizen imprisoned in Iran.

But – again – we’re told it is completely coincidental that Mr Johnson and Philip Hammond have authorised the payment.

Wouldn’t it be even more of a coincidence if Iran suddenly found itself far more open to the possibility of letting Mr Johnson visit that country and bring Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe back with him?

No. That would be too much to believe.

Don’t get me wrong – any tactic that actually leads to a result in favour of this unjustly-imprisoned wife and mother will be worthwhile.

But we will have to remember that Boris Johnson needs a cynical gimmick to save him.

Britain is to pay Iran more than £400m, the country’s ambassador to the UK has claimed.

Hamid Baeidinejad said the amount was an “outstanding debt” but was not linked to the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – the dual British-Iranian national who is in prison in Iran.

Writing on his Telegram account, Mr Baedinejad said: “An outstanding debt owed by the UK to Tehran will be transferred to the central bank of Iran in the coming days. The payment … has nothing to do with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case.”

It had been widely reported in recent days that the UK Government was considering paying the amount to help persuade Iran to release Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Britain owes Iran around £450m for a cancelled arms deal in the 1970s. The deal was made with the country’s then Shah, and would have seen 1,750 tanks and other vehicles sold by Britain to Iran. However, the Shah was toppled in the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and almost none of the vehicles were delivered. Britain kept the money, sparking a decades-long legal wrangle between the two countries.

The UK has since agreed to pay back some of the debt, but says it is unable to transfer the money because of international sanctions on Iran.

The amount was reportedly transferred to a bank account controlled by the High Court in 2002, but has not been passed on to Iran. Talks to resolve the issue have been going on for many years.

The Sun reported earlier this week that Mr Johnson and Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, have now authorised the payment to Iran to finally settle the dispute.

Officially, the UK Government does not make ransom payments. The Foreign Office said the issue of the debt owed to Iran was unrelated to the case of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Source: Britain to transfer outstanding £400m debt to Iran in coming days, Iranian ambassador says


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Another non-apology from Boris Johnson – for a claim that he INVENTED about Nazanin

Boris Johnson.

There really isn’t even a shred of human decency about Boris Johnson, is there?

Today, responding to an urgent question on the situation regarding Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Mr Johnson said [boldings mine]:

“The British Government have no doubt that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran on holiday and that that was the sole purpose of her visit. As I said in the House last week, my remarks on the subject before the Foreign Affairs Committee could and should have been clearer. I acknowledge that words I used were open to being misinterpreted, and I apologise to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family if I have inadvertently caused them any further anguish.

If?

He has caused them further anguish. Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard has already made that plain.

And there were other issues, as Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, who asked the UQ, made clear:

“The Foreign Secretary argued last week that his comments to the Select Committee did not have “any connection whatever” with the latest threats by the Iranian authorities to extend Nazanin’s sentence, and that it was simply untrue to suggest otherwise. That is entirely contradicted by what was said by the Iranian courts last weekend, and by what was said on the Iranian judiciary’s website and on Iranian state TV. All of them said explicitly that the Foreign Secretary’s remarks were the basis of their renewed action against Nazanin. We know from the evidence of Richard Ratcliffe that when Nazanin was told of the remarks and saw how the Iranian authorities would exploit them, she became hugely distressed and upset. So will the Foreign Secretary today accept the impact that his words have had and the distress that has been caused to Nazanin, and apologise properly for that—apologise not for upsetting people, but for getting it wrong?

“Secondly, last week the Foreign Secretary was asked several times to do one very simple thing, and that was simply to admit that he had made a mistake—not that his remarks had been taken out of context or misconstrued, but that they were simply wrong. He has, so far, refused to make that clear, and that refusal was compounded yesterday by his good friend the Environment Secretary. Even after all the debate on this issue, the Environment Secretary still, incredibly, claimed that we “don’t know” why Nazanin is in Iran. We do.

“It is not good enough. If it is a matter of pride that the Foreign Secretary is refusing to admit that he made a mistake, I feel bound to say to him that his pride matters not one ounce compared to Nazanin’s freedom. After a week of obfuscation and bluster, will he finally take the opportunity today to state simply and unequivocally, for the removal of any doubt either here or in Tehran, that he simply got it wrong?”

Mr Johnson would not.

His refusal may be more shocking in the light of the fact that, according to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Mr Johnson had not been briefed – even badly – about her situation. When he made his irresponsible remark that he believed her to be teaching journalism, he simply made it up.

As you an imagine, nobody worth mentioning has anything good to say about the latest developments:

https://twitter.com/ShehabKhan/status/930109246724886528

It has been suggested that, if Mr Johnson goes to Iran and manages to bring Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe back, he might be able to save his career.

But this matter has gone too far for that.

Mr Johnson has been incompetent, and compounded his failure by refusing to accept this.

If he is allowed to continue, it seems clear that he will only make matters worse.

And he won’t understand why everybody is angry about it.

Nothing I have heard since the weekend has changed my opinion.

Boris Johnson has to quit – or Theresa May must sack him, together with Michael Gove, who tried to defend him.


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If Johnson and Patel don’t lose their jobs, May should lose hers – and we should have an election

The transgressors: Priti Patel and Boris Johnson have disgraced themselves and brought shame upon the Tory government.

It’s very simple: Boris Johnson is too stupid to be a government minister, and Priti Patel is too selfish.

Mr Johnson has directly harmed the interests of a British citizen in Iran by providing false information about her to Parliament.

And Ms Patel seems to have been carrying out her own foreign policy – different to that of the Conservative government she is supposed to represent – and lying about it ludicrously.

As prime minister, Theresa May cannot simply accept their apologies.

They are a danger – not only to the citizens and stability of the United Kingdom but to Mrs May’s own government. If she can’t see that, then she must go as well.

Mr Johnson’s stupidity lay in shooting his mouth off in the House of Commons about matters he did not understand.

Referring to the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a woman of joint UK-Iranian citizenship who has been detained in Iran since April 2016, he said that she had been “simply teaching people journalism”. As a result, she was hauled up before an Iranian court over the weekend and told she could face another five years in prison, with Mr Johnson’s words used as evidence against her.

In fact, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe is 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.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry has written to Mr Johnson, demanding that he correct his mistake. She wrote:

“While your previous gaffes in the role of Foreign Secretary may have seriously damaged this country’s interests abroad, and caused grave offence to our international partners, this is – I believe – the first time that one of your comments has directly harmed the interests and prospects of a British national who instead should have been entitled to expect your support and aid.

“The responsibility to fix this latest crisis for Nazanin is yours and yours alone. You must immediately contact your counterparts in the Iranian authorities, admit to the gross error that you have made, and implore them not to make Nazanin ‎the victim for your own personal ineptitude. You must then re-start the process of attempting to secure her release, one which I hope you have not irreparably damaged through your actions this week.”

Ms Thornberry also said Mr Johnson’s comment “reveals a fundamental lack of interest or concern for the details of Nazanin’s case and the consequences of your words”.

Mr Johnson has refused to retract his statement or apologise for it.

He thinks he can do whatever he likes.

If Mrs May allows him to get away with this, he’ll know he is right. And what will he do then?

Priti Patel’s case is even more ridiculous, if only in the way she has tried to justify it.

She reckons she travelled to Israel on a family holiday – defining this as a holiday for which she paid herself.

As family holidays go, it may have been the worst ever.

Instead of taking in the sights and soaking up the sun, Ms Patel took it upon herself to hold a series of meetings with Israeli dignitaries of varying ranks, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which government policy issues were discussed.

The visits were arranged by Tory peer Lord Polak – in advance? It seems unlikely that they were sorted out after Ms Patel arrived in Israel because there were so many of them – 12 in the list provided by Ms Patel in her latest statement.

At first Ms Patel claimed that the Foreign Secretary – Boris Johnson again – had known about her visit. But Mr Johnson was not told about the trip until after it had taken place and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office were not informed of it in advance (although that organisation did become aware of it while it was underway).

While the FCO has said it is satisfied that UK interests were not damaged or affected by the meetings on this visit, it is clear that Ms Patel – who is Secretary of State for International Development – was not acting on behalf of the Conservative government of which she is – nominally – a party.

She had gone rogue and was conducting foreign affairs on her own behalf.

This is a gross breach of the Ministerial Code – she acted independently of the government and misled Parliament about what she had done.

Under the Ministerial Code, she had no choice other than to offer Mrs May her resignation – and Mrs May should have accepted it.

Instead, she apologised and Mrs May has accepted it.

But the apology only came after Ms Patel had been exposed as having lied to Parliament, as detailed above. Would she have done so, had the FCO not spoken up?

And how can we believe Ms Patel’s account of events at these meetings?

We know we have a government that works for its own benefit and not that of the country. Now we are seeing ministers who won’t even act in the interests of the government, but only for themselves.

This is intolerable.

Mrs May wants to hide away until public outrage at these events blows itself out. She should not be allowed to do so.

As Prime Minister, it is her duty to maintain discipline and responsibility among her ministers.

If she cannot manage that, then she should resign – and call an election so the people of the UK can install a competent government.


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