Richard Ratcliffe had teamed up with a campaign group founded by people whose loved ones are imprisoned abroad to call for a law to protect UK citizens who are detained overseas.
The British Rights Abroad Group (BRAG) and husband of imprisoned mother, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, are asking Boris Johnson to make it a legal requirement for the government and Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to “defend and protect the human rights of Britons abroad.”
Currently there is no such law that guarantees the government will help if a British citizen is arrested in a foreign country, according to BRAG.
The petition launched on Change.org last night and has gained more than 170,000 signatures in 24 hours.
Mr Ratcliffe’s wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has always denied the spying charge for which she was arrested while visiting family in Iran in 2016.
Dr Rebecca Ratcliffe, Richard’s sister, told talkRADIO’s James Whale yesterday that a change in the law would support families "when they suddenly find themselves in this horrendous nightmare that we’re in".
Speaking of her family’s experience, she continued: “You feel completely isolated and you turn to the Foreign Office hoping, expecting them to help, to be almost fobbed off really.”
The new Prime Minister was Foreign Secretary at the time that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested, and has been criticised for his handling of the case.
Mr Ratcliffe previously told talkRADIO that Mr Johnson’s “reluctance to take any personal responsibility” was “not good enough.”
Speaking on the day Mr Johnson won the Tory leadership contest and entered Number 10, Mr Ratcliffe said: “Your job as Prime Minister is to protect British citizens.”