UK urges Iran to end arbitrary detention of foreign nationals

UK urges Iran to end arbitrary detention of foreign nationals
Richard Ratcliffe, husband of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe jailed in Tehran since 2016, with his daughter Gabriella and his mother Barbara, to address media outside of 10 Downing Street in central London on Jan. 23, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 17 February 2021

UK urges Iran to end arbitrary detention of foreign nationals

UK urges Iran to end arbitrary detention of foreign nationals
  • Foreign secretary: Practice ‘cruel’ and ‘wrong’
  • Western states sign declaration calling for end to ‘coercive diplomacy’

LONDON: The UK has joined 57 other countries in denouncing “coercive diplomacy,” while calling on Iran to release dual nationals detained for political purposes, after a virtual conference on Monday.

A declaration proposed by Canada, and joined by the US, Australia and almost all of the EU, called for the end of “the practice of arbitrary arrest, detention or sentencing to exercise leverage over foreign governments.”

The declaration made no reference to any specific country, but UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab singled out Iran in a statement afterwards.

Tehran currently holds a number of dual nationals, including British Iranians Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori.

Their families say they are being detained on trumped-up charges for leverage and to settle political scores.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is thought to have been imprisoned to exert pressure on the UK government over a debt dispute with Tehran.

Canada has an ongoing dispute with Iran over the detention of Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani in 2016.

British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert was released in November, having been arrested in 2018 on charges of espionage.

Raab said: “The use of arbitrary detention, particularly as a threat, or as a means to influence others, is cruel. It’s wrong. We continue, for example, to press for the immediate and permanent release of all arbitrarily detained dual British nationals in Iran.”

He added: “We call on states to abide by their clear obligations, including under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.”

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