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 –
Today Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliff is spending her 40th birthday in prison in Iran. I've joined her husband Richard Ratcliffe, @TulipSiddiq MP and many others to call for her immediate release so she can come home. @FreeNazanin https://t.co/K0tQbs7Zqz
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) December 26, 2018
– has attracted support on the social media:
Let's not forget Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is ill and has been in prison in Iran since April 2016 after visiting her relatives. And let's never forget that by opening his fat trap in November 2017, the lazy and useless wannabe PM Boris Johnson made her situation much worse.
— Ivan White (@ivanwhite48) December 26, 2018
Today is @FreeNazanin Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s 40th birthday. She’ll spend it in prison because she’s falsely accused of espionage. In reality the Iranian authorities are holding her hostage. She should be freed immediately.
— John Simpson (@JohnSimpsonNews) December 26, 2018
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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