Boris Johnson says Iran comments 'could have been clearer'

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe 37 is already serving a five-year sentence she now faces a further five years in jail on new charges of “propaganda against the regime”

The Foreign Office said that Johnson telephoned his Iran foreign minister, Javad Zarif, on Tuesday morning to discuss the case of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested while visiting the country with her young daughter a year ago.

The husband of a British mum whose sentence in an Iranian prison may be extended due to a colossal blunder by Boris Johnson, has demanded action.

Along with academics and worldwide workers from other western countries who were detained around the same time, she was accused of espionage by members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, then separated from her daughter, placed in solitary confinement and sentenced to five years in prison.

"He told MPs: "(Neither) Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe nor her family has been informed about what crime she has actually committed.

Denton said the family had been campaigning for almost two years to get the Government to "acknowledge that it was a bad thing that she was in prison" and had felt like they were "inching towards saying something she was wrongly imprisoned before the genius that is Boris Johnson added a few extra flourishes to it".

In a statement, a foreign office spokesperson said Johnson accepted his claims ought to have been "clearer" but described the accusation that he had made a false claim as "absolutely not true".

I have written to Boris Johnson in the strongest terms.

Mr Ratcliffe and campaigners are demanding Boris Johnson corrects his blunder and contacts his Iranian counterparts to explain his mistake before Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces a doubling of her prison sentence.

Downing Street said Theresa May still had "full confidence" in her Foreign Secretary.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation has also demanded Mr Johnson retract his comments, clarifying Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a project manager for the charity and has never trained journalists.

Speaking on BBC's Radio 4, he said: "We all make slips of the tongue, we've got to very careful that we are not overreacting to this in a way that is going to give the Iranians [an excuse to extend the sentence]".

Their three year old child Gabriella has been staying with Iranian grandparents as petitions have called for her mother's release after she was sentenced to five years.

The 38-year-old has been detained in the Iranian capital since April last year, when she was arrested at Tehran airport as she attempted to return home from a visit to see her family.

TRF's statement reads: "I once again urge Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to immediately correct the mistake he made at the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in Parliament".

In October, when the new charges were filed, husband Richard Ratcliffe said the British government should be doing more to help his wife, and that it should not be making business deals with the regime that has imprisoned her. "And that I find extraordinary, incredible".

Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, called the courts' treatment of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has spent time in solitary confinement, "unjust and inhumane".

She added the latest charge "can only worsen" Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's situation.

"It is of course no coincidence that Nazanin was taken to trial the first working day after the foreign secretary condemned Iran", Richard said. She was summoned to court again on Saturday, when the presiding judge accused her of "spreading propaganda against the regime". Iranian prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said the letter demonstrated Zaghari-Ratcliffe's importance to the British authorities, but he did not say when it was sent or provide any other details about it.

Her employer and her family have insisted this is incorrect and urged Mr Johnson to retract his claim, while there have also been calls for him to quit as a result.

But there are calls for the Foreign Secretary to address the House of Commons today to make clear that Mrs Zaghai-Ratcliffe was on holiday and not teaching journalism as he publicly claimed.

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