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Boris Johnson admits to mistake over jailed Hampstead mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

PUBLISHED: 12:48 07 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:18 07 November 2017

Boris Johnson is being urged to reunite the Ratcliffe family for Christmas.  Picture: RICHARD RATCLIFFE

Boris Johnson is being urged to reunite the Ratcliffe family for Christmas. Picture: RICHARD RATCLIFFE

Archant

Boris Johnson was forced to admit he “could have been clearer” when he told a group of MPs British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was training journalists in Iran when she was arrested.

In a call this morning the foreign secretary told his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, remarks he made to the foreign affairs select committee – considered by some to have provoked Iranian authorities to drag a trembling Nazanin back to court and threaten to double her five year sentence – could not be used to justify further action against her.

Following the British foreign secreatry’s remarks Nazanin was escorted from her prison cell to court where she was told she faced new charges of plotting against Iran based on the same evidence used in her August 2016 trial.

Nazanin is now at risk of spending another five years in a prison cell.

A foreign office spokeswoman said: “The Foreign Secretary accepts his remarks to the committee could have been clearer,” before saying the former Mayor of London would appear in Parliament later today.

The spokeswoman said Mr Johnson’s comment Nazanin was training reporters – when in fact she was visiting family with her three-year-old daughter Gabriella – was a condemnation of Iran’s view educating journalists was a crime and did not show he believed Iranian allegations Nazanin had been engaged in such activity.

The spokeswoman added: “The Foreign Secretary expressed concern at the suggestion from the Iranian Judiciary High Council for Human Rights that his remarks last week ‘shed new light’ on the case.

“Mr Johnson said this was absolutely not true. It was clear, as it always had been, that Mrs Zaghari Ratcliffe had been in Iran on holiday when arrested,” she said.

But Mr Zarif is reported to have said recent developments – which saw Nazanin appear in front of hard-line judge Abolqasem Salavati on Saturday – were “unrelated” to Boris Johnson’s remarks and he “remained committed” to finding a solution to the charity worker’s case.

Mr Johnson – who came under fire after last week’s appearance in Parliament – is said to have shared his anxiety about Nazanin and her family’s “continued suffering” with Mr Zarif setting out his aim to visit the republic before the end of the year to discuss the Hampstead mum’s case.

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