British FM: Zaghari-Ratcliffe imprisonment will ‘sabotage’ UK-Iran ties

British FM: Zaghari-Ratcliffe imprisonment will ‘sabotage’ UK-Iran ties
If Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is sent back to prison following a court hearing on Monday, UK-Iranian relations will be fundamentally changed and “sabotaged” by Tehran’s actions, said British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 31 October 2020

British FM: Zaghari-Ratcliffe imprisonment will ‘sabotage’ UK-Iran ties

British FM: Zaghari-Ratcliffe imprisonment will ‘sabotage’ UK-Iran ties
  • ‘The detention of Nazanin and other dual nationals in Iran is totally unwarranted’
  • Zaghari-Ratcliffe due in court on Monday

LONDON: If Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is sent back to prison following a court hearing on Monday, UK-Iranian relations will be fundamentally changed and “sabotaged” by Tehran’s actions, said British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is under house arrest in Iran and has been in custody since 2016 on contested charges of espionage, has been told to expect a return to prison following a court appearance on Monday.

“The truth is the detention of Nazanin and other dual nationals in Iran is totally unwarranted,” said Raab.

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READ MORE: British-Iranian national Zaghari-Ratcliffe details first prison interrogation

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“We’ve made it very clear we want to put the relationship between the UK and Iran on a better footing. If Nazanin is returned to prison that will of course put our discussions and the basis of those discussions in a totally different place. It is entirely unacceptable, it is entirely unwarranted, it is totally unjustified.” 

He told the BBC: “I totally understand the horrific position she is in.” Raab said Tehran has been warned that any move to bring fresh proceedings against Zaghari-Ratcliffe “must not happen.”

On Thursday, Iran’s Ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad was summoned to a meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), where officials informed him of Britain’s “grave concern” over recent developments.

Thomas Drew, the FCO’s director-general for the Middle East, said the envoy was told the move was “unjustified and unacceptable, and is causing an enormous amount of distress,” a spokesman said.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family deny the charges and say she is being used by Tehran as a bargaining chip over an unfulfilled arms deal between Britain and Iran before the 1979 revolution.