Johnson to meet husband of aid worker jailed in Iran

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Boris Johnson to meet husband

Answering an urgent question in parliament, the Foreign Secretary also played down suggestions that the United Kingdom could give diplomatic status to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested 19 months ago when she was on holiday visiting relatives in Iran and subsequently imprisoned.

The meeting comes as Mr Johnson faces calls for his resignation after he suggested to MPs that Mr Ratcliffe's wife, an aid worker, was in Iran to train journalists.

Mr Johnson is expected to use the meeting to discuss Mr Ratcliffe's request for his wife to be given diplomatic protection. She was there on holiday.

Ministers say the mother of one was detained in April last year after visiting relatives in Iran and subsequently jailed for five years after being accused of plotting to overthrow the Islamic Republic.

"I reject any suggestion that she was there in a professional capacity", he said.

Urging Iran once more to release Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe on humanitarian grounds, Mr Johnson said: 'Iran's regime and no one else has chosen to separate this mother from her infant daughter for reasons that even they find it hard to explain or describe'.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is said to be close to a nervous breakdown.

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Following criticism for refusing to act, Mr Johnson has finally attacked both Nazanin's conviction for spying as a mockery of justice and her treatment by the Iranian authorities.

The Foreign Secretary told MPs on Monday there were "overwhelming" humanitarian grounds for her release and stressed that she was in Iran on holiday. She has been confined in a high-security Iranian jail ever since while her daughter, now three, remains at the Tehran home of Nazanin's parents. Some critics have called for Johnson to resign, but Ratcliffe said it would not be in his wife's best interests.

He will speak to the Foreign Secretary at the Foreign Office at 10am, in a bid to help secure his wife's release from Iran.

Johnson said on November 1 that she had been teaching people journalism before her arrest in April 2016, contradicting her and her employer, who said she had been on holiday visiting her family.

The foreign secretary has sought advice from officials to determine whether conferring the status could help, including what impact it would have on the support provided and the representations being made on Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's behalf, according to the United Kingdom government.

Mr Ratcliffe said Mr Johnson had told him he was "deeply sorry for Nazanin's suffering", but did not say if the Foreign Secretary had made a personal apology for his blunder.

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