Ambassador: Boris Johnson not to blame for British-Iranian mum’s imprisonment

Boris Johnson is not to blame for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imprisonment, the Iranian ambassador has claimed.

Tory leadership frontrunner Mr Johnson has apologised for his false claim she was in Iran “teaching people journalism” – despite her family’s insistence that she was visiting relatives – which was used against her during her trial.

The mother-of-one has been in prison in Iran since April 2016 on charges of spying and is currently on hunger strike, as is her husband Richard, who is protesting outside the Iranian Embassy in London.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe detained
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the Government will ‘keep leaving no stone unturned’ in the case of the incarcerated charity worker (Handout/PA)

Hamid Baeidinejad, Iranian ambassador to the UK, told Channel 4 News the comments by the former foreign secretary made “no change” to her case.

When asked whether Mr Johnson’s statement was damaging, the ambassador said: “That was the initial wrongdoing by the lady – she was identifying some reporters to be connected to illegal activities.

“For us there is no change because that was in fact the reason for her to be in prison.

“But I understand that this statement by, at that point, foreign secretary Boris Johnson was in fact more sensitive within the domestic policy of the UK – but for us there was no change.”

Mr Baeidinejad suggested Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe could apply for clemency, adding the Iranian authorities were ready to help.

He said: “There are certain provisions for clemency but there are certain requirements and if the requirements would be met, certainly there is a solution and we are ready to help.”

When the suggestion was put to husband Richard Ratcliffe outside the embassy, he said he was not keen to do anything that could throw his wife’s innocence into question.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe detained
Richard Ratcliffe outside the Iranian Embassy in London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

He said: “Well I think we’ll see what the judiciary says but I think if they were going to be looking for clemency then they would have signalled that before?”

Mr Ratcliffe added he was unsure whether the family’s lawyers had tried appealing for mercy but said he would see how things develop.

“We’ll see,” he said. “Candidly I’m not sure I want to give away the idea that she’s innocent. But we’ll see how things develop here.”

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