British foreign secretary raises detainee’s case in Iran talks

Rouhani greets Johnson at the start of their meeting in Tehran, Sunday, December 10, 2017.

:: British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson raised the case of a detained dual national on Sunday when he met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a “worthwhile” two-day trip to Tehran.

The British Foreign Office says Johnson raised the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 39, who is serving a five-year prison sentence for allegedly plotting against Iran’s government.

The Foreign Office said both Johnson and Rouhani “spoke forthrightly” during their nearly hour-long meeting and “agreed on the need to make progress in all areas,” without elaborating.

“The foreign secretary discussed the full range of regional and bilateral issues, including banking matters and our concerns about the consular cases of dual nationals,” a British foreign office spokesperson told AFP.

Debt issue complicates trial

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, says she faces trial on new charges Sunday that carry the possibility of an additional 16-years imprisonment, but Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi said last month that her verdict has been finalized.

The Zaghari-Ratcliffe case has become a top priority for Johnson after he mistakenly said last month that she had been training journalists in Iran — a “slip of the tongue” used by the Iranian authorities to help justify the new charges.

He has since apologized.

Banking restrictions have also complicated long-running efforts to return an estimated 450 million pounds ($600 million) owed by Britain from a military contract cancelled due to the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The husband of the jailed British-Iranian has claimed she is a pawn in Iran’s efforts to extract the historic debt.

Johnson meets with Richard Ratcliffe in London on November 15, 2017.

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