'Liz Truss has an opportunity to progress Nazanin's release'

Labour leader Keir Starmer (front row left); Hampstead MP Tulip Siddiq (back right); Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner

Labour leader Keir Starmer (front row left); Hampstead MP Tulip Siddiq (back right); Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner (back centre); Richard Ratcliffe, (front row right) and his mother, Barbara (back left) - Credit: PA/Stefan Rousseau

This week the foreign secretary Liz Truss must secure the release from Iran of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. 

On Thursday (November 11) Iran's deputy foreign minister, Ali Bagheri Kani, will be in London during a European tour ahead of nuclear talks.

Ms Truss must meet with him to progress Nazanin's case.

The West Hampstead mother has, essentially, been held hostage since 2016, when she was arrested on trumped-up charges while visiting family with her infant daughter Gabriella.

It is clear that payment of £400 million owed by the UK to Iran for non-delivery of tanks 40 years ago would facilitate her release. 

But payment of the money would not be giving in to hostage-takers. The debt is acknowledged, though court proceedings remain around the amount.

Husband Richard has been on hunger strike outside the Foreign Office for two and a half weeks, since October 24. A father being driven to this (for a second time) is a disgrace.

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Celebrities, MPs and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer have been to visit Richard, showing solidarity, but they are not the ones who can get Nazanin home.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's contribution to securing Nazanin's release is in the red, and Ms Truss is the latest in a line of foreign ministers who have (thus far) been ineffective.

The foreign secretary must this week meet with the Iranian minister – that's the bare minimum. Anything short of that, she must acknowledge her failure and resign.

Claudia Winkleman and Victoria Coren Mitchell have visited Richard Ratcliffe at his camp outside the Foreign Office

Claudia Winkleman and Victoria Coren Mitchell have visited Richard Ratcliffe at his camp outside the Foreign Office, as he campaigns for wife Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe's release - Credit: PA/Aaron Chown

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