27/08/2018 15:33 BST

Jeremy Hunt Praised By Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's Husband For Efforts To Release Briton From Prison

Richard Ratcliffe says the foreign secretary has given greater priority to his wife's case than his predecessor Boris Johnson.

Jeremy Hunt has been praised by Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband for giving his wife’s case greater priority than that of his predecessor Boris Johnson. 

Richard Ratcliffe commended the foreign secretary for being “clear and critical” about his wife’s case after she voluntarily returned to prison in Iran following an emotional family reunion over the weekend. 

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian citizen who has been detained by Iranian authorities since 2016 for allegedly seeking to overthrow the government, was released on furlough from Evin prison in Tehran on Thursday for three days.

The temporary released allowed her to spend time with her four-year-old daughter, Gabriella, and her family.

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe pictured with her four-year-old daughter, Gabriella, after being released from prison for three days.

However, the request for an extension was not granted and she was told she must return by sunset, her husband said.

Ratcliffe suggested there had been a change in the relationship with Iran since Hunt replaced Johnson as foreign secretary last month.

And he said he had “sensed a change in the way he has prioritised Nazanin’s case”.

“I think one of my complaints with the government was that it didn’t feel like it was sort of treating her case with the public severity that I thought it deserved,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

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Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt was praised by Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband for giving his wife’s case greater priority than that of his predecessor.

“He’s been great in that sense: he’s been clear and critical and he’s said ‘listen, she’s innocent and she shouldn’t be in prison, her treatment has been appalling’, and all the things that we’ve been asking the Government to do.”

He added: “In terms of how the relationship with Iran has changed, well clearly she got out for a few days, that’s a pretty good sign and there have been some other improvements.”

On Sunday, Hunt said he had spoken to Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday but that it “clearly wasn’t enough”.

Ratcliffe, who told the programme he has been unable to get an Iranian visa, said his wife’s temporary release initially appeared to be a “very good sign”, but said it felt “pretty cruel at the end of it”.

He added: “It was a slight surprise that she was released but it felt consistent with positive noises, so it wasn’t just a bump, it was a proper brick wall yesterday that she was brought back in.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, from Hampstead, north London, was sentenced to five years in jail after being accused of spying by Tehran’s Islamist regime.

She denies the allegation and said she was on holiday in Iran to allow her daughter to spend time with relatives there.