Free Nazanin: 'No breakthrough' says Richard after meeting with PM Boris Johnson

Nellie Chapman
January 25, 2020

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband has said there was "no breakthrough" with Boris Johnson after a meeting to discuss freeing the imprisoned mother.

Ratcliffe reached for his daughter's hand and said to the reporters, "Truly no breakthrough", when he left the session.

However, her husband's last step in his long-standing campaign was the meeting with the Prime Minister at number 10, whom he criticized for treating the charity case, which may worsen their situation. And any optimism over Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's chances of freedom has been dampened by the soaring tensions with Tehran provoked by the U.S. killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

Mr Johnson is "personally committed" to her case, he said, and was "touched" when he gave him a wallet that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe had made in prison.

Nazanin is serving a five-year sentence over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Tehran government, having been arrested in 2016 during a holiday visit to show her then baby daughter Gabriella to her parents.

Mr Johnson has previously said he would leave "no stone unturned" to help free her.

Mr Johnson has been persistently criticised for wrongly claiming, when he was foreign secretary, that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was training journalists at the time of her arrest.

Any optimism over Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's chances of freedom has been dampened by the soaring tensions with Iran provoked by the United States killing of its top general, Qassem Soleimani.

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USA finance leader Steve Mnuchin disregarded the Swede's call for governments and organizations to cut back on fossil fuel usage. She added: "I'm not going to criticize anyone who's bringing their energy and voice".

F our days later on she was mobilized to an unscheduled court hearing throughout which Mr Johnson's remarks were pointed out as evidence she was participated in "propaganda against the regime".

The sum has been outstanding since pre-revolutionary Iran paid the United Kingdom for 1,500 Chieftain tanks in the 1970s.

Thursday's meeting comes amid continuing wrangling in the UK's High Court over an outstanding debt of almost £380 million owed by Britain for an aborted arms deal that was cancelled after the 1979 revolution.

Iranian leaders have hinted that the release of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe could be connected with payment of the debt, but United Kingdom government officials say their hands are tied by the sanctions regime.

Ms Siddiq said in the Commons: "This case relates to the £400 million that we owe Iran as a country, and anyone with a passing interest in my constituent's case will know that the debt is linked to her imprisonment".

Mr Rees-Mogg said the issue is "extraordinarily difficult".

"The risk that would cause to other Britons travelling overseas would be very considerable", he said.

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