British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to visit Iran

Joann Johnston
December 8, 2017

Boris Johnson will travel to Tehran this weekend in a bid to have British woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe released from the prison in which she has been held for the past two years.

In wide-ranging talks with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Mr Johnson will seek to shore up bilateral relations and urge Tehran to stick by the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal.

The dual British-Iranian national from north London was sentenced to five years in prison in the country in 2016, over allegations of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government - charges she denies.

Johnson was to arrive in Muscat on Friday for the start of a three-day visit to Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Iran.

He will also discuss British concerns over Iranian involvement in conflicts in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Yemen.

"The government remains very concerned about all our dual nationals detained in Iran and has been doing everything it can to make progress on their cases, while approaching them in a way that we judge is in their best interests".

"Johnson has insisted that the second set of charges laid against her are not related to his error last month in telling the foreign affairs select committee in Westminster that she had been in Iran to train journalists", The Guardian says.

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Since then he has met Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, Richard Ratcliffe, about calls for her to be provided her with diplomatic protection.

She is due to face fresh charges in court of "spreading propaganda" on Sunday.

The mother had been visiting Iran with her daughter Gabriella when she was arrested past year. In reality, she was visiting family in the country.

Commenting on news of Mr Johnson's trip, Amnesty International UK's Director, Kate Allen, said: "We're cautiously hopeful that this could be the light at the end of the tunnel for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe".

"Him being there can only make things better".

The Foreign Office has declined to name the other individuals involved - or even identify the number in jail - after their families asked for their cases to be kept out of the public eye.

"I am sure the fact that the foreign secretary is going will have given her some hope".

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