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'Know that your actions cemented Nazanin's place': Richard Ratcliffe demands meeting with PM Boris Johnson and attacks UK attitude to Iran prisoners in astonishing letter

PUBLISHED: 18:05 29 November 2019 | UPDATED: 18:05 29 November 2019

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of detained Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, outside the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA.

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of detained Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, outside the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

After more than 100 days in office, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has continued to ignore requests from Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband to meet again, and in an astonishing 3,500 word letter made public this morning, Richard Ratcliffe attacked the words and actions of both the PM and government and those of his predecessor.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been in prison since 2016. Picture: Family of Nazanin Zaghari-RatcliffeNazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been in prison since 2016. Picture: Family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Richard described how the Prime Minister repeatedly refuse to properly apologise to him for the blunder where he incorrectly referred to Nazanin having been "teaching journalists" in Iran, and then sought to minimise the consequences of his actions in the media during this summer's Conservative leadership race - which took place while both Richard and Nazanin were on hunger strike.

The letter also sees Richard implore the Prime Minister to enable "a Christmas miracle" and bring his wife back to the UK before December 25.

Richard, who has described the letter as "more strident" than he would usually make public, also uses it to criticise the government policy of refusing to explicitly acknowledge the link between Nazanin's imprisonment and the half-century old UK debt to Iran that the middle-eastern state has repeatedly brought up as a way of solving Nazanin's case.

In writing, Richard also put to the Prime Minister that his behaviour and that of the government had at times bordered on "victim-blaming".

Richard Ratcliffe outside of the Iranian Embassy at the end of day four of his and Nazanin's hunger strike. Picture: Sam VolpeRichard Ratcliffe outside of the Iranian Embassy at the end of day four of his and Nazanin's hunger strike. Picture: Sam Volpe

Additionally, he criticised the goverment's "dog whistle" use of the term "dual-nationals", which he said "provides a convenient smokescreen for the government's choices, and its conscious failure to reach a deal with Iran, in contrast to other states".

He also contrasted progress in Nazanin's case with the Australian government having successfully negotiated the release of two prisoners in Iran since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

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Attacking Boris Johnson's refusal to meet with him and the government's "accountability gap" Richard continued: "In public the UK chooses to avoid its obligations, emphasising that there is nothing more that the Government can do. Ministers are set up to manage expectations.

Boris Johnson during a visit to Metropolitan Police training college. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PABoris Johnson during a visit to Metropolitan Police training college. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

"We are kept spinning in a hamster wheel, encouraged to wait until Iran does the right thing. But inertia has a dangerous complacency, if nothing else moves. The spiral of desperation does not stop."

As Richard told this newspaper last week, his letter also included a stark warning about Nazanin's health and her state of mind. She is permanently accompanied by the "black dog" of depression, he said.

The West Hampstead father continued: "My job these days is to keep Nazanin and her family protected in the light and to manage her spirits while this prolongs. Soon time will run out."

Richard finishes his letter by giving Mr Johnson a chance to fix the situation again. He wrote: "Our story defines what a British passport is worth on your watch. The job of a PM is not just to make headlines, but in the end to make a difference. That starts with protecting citizens at their most vulnerable, home and abroad.

"Flowery promises do not keep people safe. In fact, undelivered they can have the opposite effect. Know that your actions cemented Nazanin's place. We look to your actions to bring her home."

The Conservative Party have not responded to this newspaper's request for comment, but a spokesperson told the Daily Mirror: "We continue to raise cases at the most senior level and urge Iran to let them be reunited."

To see Richard's full letter, visit: change.org/p/free-nazanin-ratcliffe/u/25417753

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