Jeremy Hunt offers a ‘fresh start’ in bid to free charity worker jailed in Iran

Jeremy Hunt offers a ‘fresh start’ in bid to free charity worker jailed in Iran

Friday, August 3, 2018

The recently appointed Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt met with Richard Ratcliffe on Thursday to discuss what could be done to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 after being accused of spying.

"I thought it was a positive meeting," Ratcliffe said.

"He was open and straight and sincere with us.

The former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was hit by a backlash for telling a parliamentary committee that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been in Iran to train journalists, which he later acknowledged was not the case.

"The former Foreign Secretary was sincere in wanting Nazanin home,” Ratcliffe added.

"There was baggage in the way it all happened and a fresh start allows for some of that baggage to be laid to rest."

Hunt pledged to do everything possible to secure her release.

"Good to meet Richard Ratcliffe and his family yesterday," he tweeted.

"It's a shocking and desperate situation and they are showing extraordinary strength and resilience, as is Nazanin. We will do everything we can to bring her home."

‘This has gone on far too long’

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, is facing a further hearing over an unspecified security charge which her family believes will include an accusation of spreading propaganda against Tehran's Islamist regime.

She has consistently denied all allegations, insisting she was on holiday to introduce her daughter to her family.

Amnesty International UK's director, Kate Allen described the meeting between Ratcliffe and the Foreign Secretary as “very welcome”.

"The Foreign Secretary's pledge over trying to secure Nazanin's release is very welcome, as is the fact he's had a face-to-face meeting with Richard relatively early into his new job," Allen said. 

"We'd now like to see the UK Government at all levels pushing hard for Nazanin's release.

"This has gone on far too long. Nazanin is a prisoner of conscience who should never have been jailed in the first place. She should be freed and allowed to travel back to the UK with her young daughter Gabriella."