No breakthrough, says Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband after meeting with PM

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband has said there was “no breakthrough” during a Downing Street meeting with Boris Johnson to discuss efforts to free the British-Iranian mother.

Richard Ratcliffe and their five-year-old daughter Gabriella met the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to discuss her imprisonment in Tehran, which continues after nearly four years.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is serving a five-year sentence over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Tehran government, having been arrested in 2016 during a holiday visit to show her then baby daughter Gabriella to her parents.

Any optimism over Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s chances of freedom has been dampened by the soaring tensions with Iran provoked by the US killing of its top general, Qassem Soleimani.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

But her husband’s latest step in his long-running campaign came with the meeting in No 10 with the PM, who he has criticised for his handling of the charity worker’s case, potentially worsening her plight.

Clutching his daughter’s hand, Mr Ratcliffe told reporters: “In truth, no breakthrough,” when exiting the meeting.

Mr Ratcliffe said he urged the PM to be “brave” in his dealings with Iran, and said he was convinced Mr Johnson is “personally committed” about her situation though he did not apologise for his past mistakes.

But the father added: “Sympathy isn’t enough to get us out of this.”

He said a “gap” remains between his sense that the Government must be “tough with Iran”.

Richard Ratcliffe with his daughter Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe, in Downing Street
Richard Ratcliffe with his daughter Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe, in Downing Street

“I don’t think I have come away thinking Nazanin is coming out tomorrow or even next week, and I will think carefully about what I tell her on the phone on Saturday about where the hope is to come,” Mr Ratcliffe added.