NEWS
10/03/2021 18:31 GMT

Boris Johnson Demands Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's Immediate Release

In a phone call with Iran's president Hassan Rouhani, the prime minister asked for the release of other detained British-Iranian nationals.

Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's daughter Gabriella at a protest outside the Iranian Embassy in London.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe must be immediately released and allowed to return to her family in the UK, Boris Johnson has demanded in a phone call with the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

The two leaders spoke on Wednesday afternoon, where Johnson raised Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s “completely unacceptable” case and asked for her to be released along with other detained British-Iranian dual nationals, according to Downing Street. 

Last weekend, Zaghari-Ratcliffe had her ankle tag removed after serving a five-year sentence. But although she is no longer under house arrest, it is not clear whether she is allowed to leave Iran.

Describing the prime minister’s phone call, a spokesperson for No.10 said, “He said that while the removal of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle monitor was welcome, her continued confinement remains completely unacceptable and she must be allowed to return to her family in the UK.”

On Sunday, the charity worker’s lawyer Hojjat Kermani told Iranian website Emtedad his client had spent the last year of her term under house arrest with “electronic shackles tied to her feet”. “Now they’re cast off. She has been freed.”

Detained in Tehran in 2016 over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government, Zaghari-Ratcliffe could still face further charges and has been unable to return to the UK.

On Monday, her husband Richard Ratcliffe attended a vigil alongside the couple’s six-year-old daughter outside the Iranian embassy in central London.

Following his wife’s release, Ratcliffe said she was “genuinely happy” after having her ankle tag removed but that he felt “a bit more guarded.” 

He said: “It’s a mixed day for us – Nazanin is genuinely happy that the ankle tag is off and she has gone to visit her grandmother and the family of one of the other British Iranians held. Both things that she has not been able to do for many months.

“She is having a nice afternoon, has turned her phone off and is not thinking about the rest of it.

“I’m a bit more guarded – it feels to me like they have made one blockage just as they have removed another, and we very clearly remain in the middle of this government game of chess.

“I’m grateful for the foreign secretary’s strong words [on Monday] and the intervention of the British Embassy this morning. But she remains in harm’s way, even if today she is determined not to feel it.”

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab had said the British-Iranian dual national should be allowed to return to the UK as soon as possible and described Iran’s treatment of her as “intolerable”.

Amnesty International said the British ambassador in Tehran should visit Zaghari-Ratcliffe ahead of another expected court hearing on Sunday to show “maximum solidarity”.