The husband of a Thomson Reuters Foundation employee imprisoned in Iran has accused Boris Johnson of putting his wife at risk of a further five years in jail.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was on holiday in April of last year when she was arrested at Tehran airport. She is serving a five-year sentence but has not been told why she is being held.
The foreign secretary made her situation worse last week by telling the Foreign Affairs Committee last week that Zaghari-Ratcliffe “was training journalists” in Iran.
Zaghari-Ratfcliffe works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the media development team, but she is not a trained journalist, nor has she ever trained journalists.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was brought before an Iranian Court again on November 4, following Johnson’s statement on November 1. She was accused of “spreading propaganda against the regime”.
Yesterday, the Iranian High Council for Human Rights wrote: “For months it was claimed that Nazanin is a British-Iranian charity worker who went to see her family when she was arrested. Mr Johnson’s statement has shed new light on the realities about Nazanin.”
In a statement, the chief executive of the Thomson Reuters Foundation said: “I once again urge Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to immediately correct the serious mistake he made at the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament.
“On 1 November he said that Nazanin ‘was training journalists’ in Iran. I have immediately clarified that this is not right as she is not a journalist and has never trained journalists at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, where she is project manager in my Media Development team.
“Like Richard Ratcliffe, her husband, I see a direct correlation between this statement by Boris Johnson, who rightly condemned the treatment that Nazani has received in Iran, and the fact that Nazanin was brought once again into Court on Saturday 4 November and accused of ‘spreading propaganda against the regime’.”
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “Last week’s remarks by the Foreign Secretary provide no justifiable basis on which to bring any additional charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
“While criticising the Iranian case against Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the Foreign Secretary sought to explain that even the most extreme set of unproven Iranian allegations against her were insufficient reason for her detention and treatment.
“The UK will continue to do all it can to secure her release on humanitarian grounds and the Foreign Secretary will be calling the Iranian Foreign Minister to raise again his serious concerns about the case and ensure his remarks are not misrepresented.”