British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is given diplomatic protection after being jailed in Iran for three years on false spy charges meaning the UK can raise the case at the UN
- Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has now been given diplomatic protection by Britain
- This means the UK can raise her case with the UN to try and secure her release
- Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed in Iran for five years under false spying charges
A British-Iranian mother has been given diplomatic protection after being jailed in Iran for three years on false spy charges.
The move by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt means the UK can raise the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe at the UN.
Iran does not recognise dual nationals and so regards the charity worker as an Iranian citizen the UK has no claim over.
However, diplomatic protection means Iran will be forced to meet its obligations to her under international law. It is the first time the UK has used the diplomatic tool – one of the strongest available – in recent memory.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been given diplomatic protection by Britain in a bid to secure her release from an Iranian prison (with her husband Richard Ratcliffe and their daughter Gabriella)
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested by members of the Revolutionary Guard at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport in April 2016 as she and 22-month-old daughter Gabriella were due to board a flight back to London.
She was sentenced to five years in jail for plotting to topple the Iranian government, allegations she denies. Last night her husband Richard Ratcliffe said he was pleased she had been given diplomatic protection.
He said: ‘I think the Foreign Secretary’s decision is a good thing for Nazanin – something for which we have been lobbying for a while and I am glad he has decided that it is now time.
‘We’re expecting the reaction in Iran might be a bit bumpy, but they shouldn’t be too surprised. You can’t use innocent people in this way.’
Mr Ratcliffe said he hoped it would allow British diplomats to visit Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe for the first time and that she will receive medical attention.
It comes after she went on hunger strike earlier this year to demand access to doctors. Mr Hunt said his decision was ‘extremely unusual’ but sent a signal to Tehran that its behaviour was ‘totally wrong’.
The move by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt means that Iran could now be forced to release Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabriella. She is serving a five-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2016 of spying charges, which she denies
He added: ‘It demonstrates to the whole world that Nazanin is innocent and the UK will not stand by when one of its citizens is treated so unjustly.’
Though largely symbolic, the declaration represents a significant diplomatic escalation, and the UK hopes other countries will back its stance.
It is a formal recognition her treatment has failed to meet Iran’s obligations under international law and means the case can be taken to the UN and brought before the International Court of Justice.
The decision could also potentially open the door for the UK to take legal action.
The Iranian regime will now face increasing international pressure as it upgrades the issue from a consulate issue to a state-on-state issue.
Mr Ratcliffe has called for the Government to introduce the measure and it has been under discussion for several months.