UK foreign minister calls Iran official over detained woman
LONDON - The Associated Press
Britain’s foreign secretary phoned his Iranian counterpart on Nov. 7 to express "his anxiety over the continued suffering" of a British-Iranian woman being held in Iran and set out plans to visit Tehran to discuss the case.
Boris Johnson has been under pressure to publicly correct a statement made last week in which he said Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was "simply teaching people journalism" when she was detained last year. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family and her employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, insist she was merely visiting her family.
After the remarks Zaghari-Ratcliffe was summoned to an unscheduled court hearing, where Johnson’s comments were cited as proof she was using propaganda to act against the regime. The authorities threatened to increase her sentence.
Johnson urged authorities in Iran to release Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is already serving a five-year sentence for plotting the "soft toppling" of Iran’s government. Johnson urged that she be released on humanitarian grounds.
"The Foreign Secretary expressed concern at the suggestion from the Iranian Judiciary High Council for Human Rights that his remarks last week at the Foreign Affairs Committee ’shed new light’ on the case," the Foreign Office said in a statement. "The Foreign Secretary said this was absolutely not true. It was clear, as it always had been, that Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been in Iran on holiday when arrested."
Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency, has said Zaghari-Ratcliffe works as a project manager. It said she is not a journalist and has never trained journalists at the foundation.
Johnson acknowledged in the statement that his "remarks to the Foreign Affairs Committee could have been clearer on this aspect."
Johnson is expected to update the House of Commons on the case Tuesday afternoon.