Husband of UK woman jailed in Iran presses for Tehran visit
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LONDON — The husband of a British woman jailed in Iran pressed Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Wednesday to take him along on a planned trip to Tehran amid mounting pressure to secure her freedom.
Richard Ratcliffe told reporters after the session that Johnson hadn't set a date for the visit meant to win the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 38-year-old charity worker accused of plotting the "soft toppling" of Iran's government. Ratcliffe told Johnson he wanted to travel with him because he has been denied a visa to Iran ever since his wife was arrested in April 2016.
"He said that he was keen to take me, but it is a question to resolve both within the advice of the Foreign Office and also in liaison with the Iranians," Ratcliffe told reporters after the meeting. "So that's something we'll keep pushing for."
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian citizen, says she was simply visiting family when she was arrested. Her case was complicated this month when Johnson suggested Zaghari-Ratcliffe was training journalists, and the Iranian judiciary seized on the statement as proof of the allegations against her. Johnson insisted it was a misstatement, and on Monday apologized for any harm done.
Johnson and Ratcliffe also discussed the possibility of extending diplomatic protection to Zaghari-Ratcliffe, which would give her case the status of a legal dispute between the British and Iranian governments. Ratcliffe believes the move would help his wife.
"It's important that where softly-softly doesn't work, where it has been escalated by the past couple of weeks' events and the foreign secretary's words being used, I think it is appropriate," he said. "We agreed to keep talking about it."
Zaghari-Ratcliffe's situation is delicate because Iran doesn't recognize dual citizenship for its nationals. This means that those with dual citizenship don't normally receive the same level of consular assistance from U.K. authorities as those who have only a British passport.
"The foreign secretary concluded the meeting by saying that no stone would be left unturned in the case of Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and that of our other dual nationals detained in Iran," the Foreign Office said in a statement.