Gaffe by Boris Johnson could see jailed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s sentence doubled
PUBLISHED: 13:16 06 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:16 06 November 2017
The family of Hampstead mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has attacked the foreign secretary after the jailed British-Iranian was dragged back to court following Boris Johnson mistakenly telling a group of MPs she was in Iran training journalists.
Mr Johnson made the error last Wednesday in front of a group of MPs sitting on the foreign affairs select committee hearing in Parliament.
Nazanin was arrested at Tehran airport on a return journey to London following a family visit with her daughter Gabriella in April 2016.
The British-Iranian, of Fortune Green Road, was later sentenced to five years at a secret trial on charges of plotting against Iran.
At the select committee hearing, Johnson said that Nazanin was in Iran training journalists.
The Iranian Judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights claims that Mr Johnson’s comments are proof that Nazanin was not in Iran on holiday.
The Judiciary said: “His statement shows that Nazanin had visited the country for anything but a holiday. For months it was claimed that Nazanin is a British-Iranian charity worker who went to see her family when she was arrested. Mr Johnson’s statement has shed new light on the realities about Nazanin, which has been strongly denied previously.”
These comments have led to new charges against Nazanin, heard on November 4, on the same evidence used in her trial in August 2016.
This is illegal in Iranian law, but she has been threatened that her additional sentence will be doubled, as she is now classed as a ‘repeat offender’.
Speaking over the phone after the hearing, Nazanin said: “I am feeling awful – I don’t want to come out mentally disturbed. I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown. No wonder why I keep complaining of hair loss. Sometimes I feel like no one understands, like I just want it all to be over.”
Nazanin’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe has demanded that Mr Johnson issues a correction in Parliament. He said: “Nazanin was on holiday in Iran with Gabriella when she was abducted. Nazanin is not being held for anything she has personally done. It is deeply misleading by both governments to suggest or even half imply otherwise.”
“We demand a clear statement from the Foreign Secretary to correct his mistake –in Parliament and in Tehran at the earliest opportunity.”
The CEO of Thomas Reuters Foundation, where Nazanin worked, Monique Villa has also called for the Foreign Secretary to retract his comments.
“I once again urge Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to immediately correct the serious mistake he made,” said Monique Villa.
“On November 1 he said that Nazanin was ‘training journalists’ in Iran. I have immediately clarified that this is not right as she was not a journalist, and has never trained journalist at the Thomson Reuters Foundation where she is project manager in my Media Development team.”