Tag Archives: release

Tories had five years to free Nazanin; now they can only hope she’ll be released on schedule

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: did Boris Johnson ever give a damn about this UK citizen, wrongly imprisoned in Iran?

What a pathetic defeat for the Conservatives – and for Boris Johnson in particular.

You’ll remember that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was imprisoned by the Iranian authorities on trumped-up charges in 2016 – for five years.

The case was brought to the UK’s Foreign Secretary – at the time, Boris Johnson – in November 2017. And the first thing he did was make the situation worse.

He said Nazanin had been arrested because she had been “teaching journalism”. In fact, that was the reason for her arrest – a reason that she denies (the Iranian authorities related it to activism against the state).

He later tried to claim that his words had not been clear and he had meant even if she had been teaching journalism, that would not have justified her arrest. But this was not true – one of many lies he has spoken on his way to the top.

The Iranian authorities said they would use Johnson’s words against Nazanin, but he refused to apologise for worsening the situation.

Next it was rumoured that Johnson was going to pay Iran £450 million owed to that country but unpaid due to international sanctions, in return for Nazanin’s freedom…

Then it was said that he had put the brakes on that scheme for fear of upsetting US President Trump.

Nazanin went on hunger strike. While she starved, Johnson (now prime minister) was working on his suntan, on the billionaires’ playground island of Mustique.

Now, her prison sentence is due to end on March 7. And what is the UK government saying?

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that he would leave “no stone unturned” in his quest to have Zaghari-Ratcliffe released on time.

How pathetic. How humiliating. And what a let-down for Nazanin’s family, including husband Richard Ratcliffe who placed his hopes in the Tories and had them dashed on the rocks of international diplomacy.

There’s no guarantee that she will be released. The authorities in Iran have threatened to lengthen her sentence, or sentence her on new charges, on several occasions.

That will be an even greater humiliation for the Tories. Or it would be, if they cared.

Nazanin’s family do care. But the politicians probably think their agony of waiting is nobody’s business but their own.

Source: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe hopes to be freed ‘within weeks’ as the end of her prison sentence nears

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MPs from all parties say failure to release Russia report is ‘affront to democracy’

Bosom buddies: Boris Johnson with Russian industrialist Alexander Temerko.

If a week in politics is a long time, how would you describe eight months? An eternity?

That’s the length of time Boris Johnson has been sitting on the report into Russian interference in UK democracy.

He says it cannot be released because the UK’s Intelligence and Security Committee has not been reconvened since it was dissolved for the December 2019 general election and has no members.

But this is a feeble excuse when one realises that the only reason for this is, Boris Johnson nominates everybody on this committee – and he hasn’t bothered to do so.

It is the only committee that Parliament has yet to appoint, and it is extremely unusual for a Parliament to fail to appoint it for six months – one-tenth of its term.

If Johnson wanted, this committee could meet on Monday and the report could be out on Tuesday (June 23).

He simply doesn’t want to – and now a cross-party group of MPs have slammed his inaction as an affront to democracy. They’re absolutely right:

MPs on Tuesday wrote to the UK prime minister to tell him it “is untenable for you to continue to block the publication of the Russia report,” adding that “the situation is an affront to democracy.”

The letter… tells Johnson “your refusal to allow publication of this crucial document raises serious concerns and questions about the transparency and integrity of our democratic process.”

Johnson faces fresh pressure to publish the report after the Electoral Commission last week published new data showing continued financial support for the Conservative party from the wife of a former minister in Vladimir Putin’s Russian government.

The letter to Johnson says this new information highlighted “the party’s deep connections to Russian oligarchs,” and “further questions as to why you are so reluctant to reconstitute the Intelligence and Security Committee.”

Source: Boris Johnson failure to release Russia report an affront to democracy – Business Insider

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New Brexit drama: government ordered to hand over all information on prorogation

Boris Johnson: Let’s hope he isn’t trying to delete any messages that might cause him discomfort if forced to explain them to Parliament!

It seems the first controversy to happen during the prorogation of Parliament is about the very same shutdown.

MPs have passed a backbench motion ordering Boris Johnson to hand over all documents relating to Downing Street’s preparations for a “no deal” Brexit and to the prorogation, along with all private messages by his most senior aides relating to these matters.

The reason, according to The Guardian, is so rebel MPs can “prove he misled Parliament”.

The Graun continues:

MPs voted to force him to publish Operation Yellowhammer documents setting out government plans by 11pm on Wednesday.

The motion, known as a humble address to the Queen, also directed Johnson to disclose messages relating to the prorogation of parliament sent by his senior adviser Dominic Cummings and various other aides on WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Facebook messenger, private email accounts both encrypted and unencrypted, text messaging and iMessage and the use of both official and personal mobile phones.

Senior government aides suggested No 10 would refuse to comply with MPs’ demands, potentially putting Johnson and senior members of his administration in contempt of parliament.

That tends to imply that there’s an inconvenient revelation in those messages, doesn’t it?

We’ll know by Thursday.

Expect drama.

Source: MPs order Johnson to hand over aides’ messages about prorogation | Politics | The Guardian

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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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Tories block move to publish Universal Credit briefings. You KNOW what this means

Under Universal Credit, child poverty is skyrocketing. It seems the Tories knew this would happen but decided to hide it from you.

For years, the Conservatives in government have been telling us that Universal Credit is better for everybody, helping the claimant into work and then towards better-paid work at less expensive to the taxpayer in a streamlined system.

But the result of Labour’s Opposition Day debate on the controversial system seems to prove one thing:

The Tories’ claims were nothing more than the vilest of lies.

Why hide the reports otherwise? If they don’t say anything that would turn the public against the Tories, then there wouldn’t be any need to keep them from public view.

Therefore they contain information that shows the Tories knew UC claimants would lose money – badly.

We’ll consider some of the ways they lose out, later.

Here’s the headline:

And here’s Labour’s official response from Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood: “The Tories have voted to shamefully cover up the impact that Universal Credit is having on families and people who most need our support.

“We all know that this policy is causing chaos and misery but this Government is refusing to listen and refusing to come clean.

“The roll-out of Universal Credit must be stopped immediately.”

Dawn Butler agreed that the Tories need to reveal the facts:

Members of the public have already drawn the correct conclusion:

The Tories came out with false arguments during the debate:

And they made offers they had no intention of honouring:

Apparently people have already tried, and had no response.

Tory Johnny Mercer trotted out the old chestnut that the best way out of poverty is employment. We all know that this is no longer true, as more people in work are in poverty than those who are out of work.

Claimants who tried to get assistance from the Department for Work and Pensions have found their pleas falling on deaf ears:

But what does Universal Credit actually do to claimants? We have already learned that it causes disproportionate harm to families with children, women, and people in minority groups. Here, Jeremy Corbyn elaborates:

And there is evidence to show the harm to children:

Those are merely the latest revelations this week!

What more could we learn over the next few days?

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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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People are asking, ‘Where’s Yulia?’ But does it matter?

Yulia Skripal with family cat Nash van Drake, who the UK authorities allowed to die for reasons that have not been clarified.

Yulia Skripal has been discharged from hospital, according to doctors there – but we don’t know where she has gone.

Channel 4 News has said the Russian embassy has accused British officials of “isolating” Ms Skripal, the daughter of the former spy who was targeted in the Salisbury poison gas attack, and “concealing important evidence”.

The report stated: “The 33-year-old Russian national was discharged from hospital [on April 9] and taken to what’s described as a ‘secure location’. Medical staff said she had asked for privacy, stressing it was not the end of her treatment, but ‘marked a significant milestone’.”

Does it really matter where she has gone?

And does it really matter what evidence she has?

If Ms Skripal were to discuss the events which led to her hospitalisation, it doesn’t matter what she would say; half the people listening would not believe it.

If she supported the UK government’s story (or stories, because there are many and they all seem to contradict each other), then the Russians wouldn’t believe her.

If she supported Russia’s claims, the UK government wouldn’t believe her.

Better for her to keep her head down.

The evidence that matters is held by the medical staff who treated her at Salisbury District Hospital. We can work out what happened to her from the treatment she received.

But it is understood that staff are being monitored – intimidated, really – by UK security services.

There remains the fact that Ms Skripal is a citizen of Russia – not the UK.

That will be a matter for diplomats to sort out.

What a shame. Diplomacy is in short supply at the moment.


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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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Crisis point: May’s government risks being in contempt of Parliament over refusal to release Brexit papers

Theresa May’s minority Conservative government was in crisis after Parliament ordered her to release 58 secret studies into the economic effects of Brexit – and her ministers refused to say whether they would agree to the demand.

Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Exiting the EU, Keir Starmer, used an antiquated procedure called a “humble address”, in which the Queen is asked to direct that the documents – “sectoral impact assessments” – must be released.

As this was an Opposition motion, the government refused to allow Conservatives to vote on it. Several prominent Tories including Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston had spoken in favour of releasing the documents, prompting accusations that Mrs May knew she would lose the vote – and has lost control of the Parliamentary process of exiting the EU.

It meant the motion, for the assessments to be released to the Commons’ Brexit select committee for scrutiny, passed unanimously.

Independent Parliamentary clerks delivered a bombshell: The decision is binding on the government. That is to say that the governent must now deliver the documents or face the possibility of being found in contempt of Parliament.

And the Commons’ Speaker, John Bercow, said he would consider “carefully” any representations alleging contempt if the documents were not delivered promptly.

“I would consider that matter most carefully,” he said. “The question of time, in both the context of the decision taken by the House tonight and the wider context of public policy, is an important question, and yes, it does form part of the equation that the Chair would have to address.”

 

So, what happens now? Twitter has been a flurry of activity:

If Tom Newton Dunn’s tweet is accurate, then there could be more angry scenes as redacting the documents would be denying the will of Parliament and the government could still be facing allegations of contempt.

Last word – for now – should go to Dennis Skinner, who ended the debate by asking the Speaker: “I know that Mr Speaker likes to reply to points of order, so I will just throw him one. He and I have been here a long time, so, like me, does he feel that the Government are dying on their feet?”

Mr Bercow did not answer – perhaps because the answer is obvious.


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Why is Amber Rudd still detaining a torture victim, despite condemnation from the judiciary?

Rudd is not disputing that the man, from Chad, is a victim of torture but has not abided by orders to release him [Image: Andrew Milligan/PA].

This is inexcusable behaviour from the holder of one of the highest offices in the UK government.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has made no attempt to justify her continued imprisonment – let’s call it what it is – of an asylum-seeker from Chad, in Africa.

She has ignored repeated court orders requiring her to do so, and couldn’t even be bothered to send a Home Office barrister to the hearing yesterday (August 23).

Are the Conservatives now showing open contempt for the law?

A high court judge has said she is “deeply concerned” about the behaviour of Amber Rudd for failing to release a survivor of torture from detention despite repeated court orders requiring her to do so.

On Wednesday Mrs Justice Nicola Davies DBE presided over an emergency high court hearing to examine the home secretary’s delay in releasing an asylum seeker who had been tortured in a Libyan prison with electric shocks and falaka – beating on the soles of the feet.

“The court is deeply concerned,” she said. “Four weeks have elapsed since an order was made.”

She added that the home secretary had failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for the delays in releasing the man from detention.

It is unusual for a high court judge to condemn a senior government minister in such strong terms. In a mark of her disquiet about the secretary of state’s conduct she not only awarded costs against her but also made an indemnity order – something reserved for conduct or circumstances that take a case “out of the norm” and a mark of disapproval by a judge.

Source: Judge condemns Amber Rudd for ignoring orders to release torture victim | UK news | The Guardian


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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