Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to receive British diplomatic protection, says Jeremy Hunt

The Foreign Secretary has announced imprisoned woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe will receive diplomatic protection by Britain.

It means Britain will now be able to take diplomatic and other actions against Iran on behalf of the 41-year-old mother and ensures the case moves from a consular matter to a more formal state problem.

The decision couldn’t come soon enough after the mother of one was jailed in Tehran in 2016, convicted of plotting to “overthrow” the Iranian regime, something she and Mr Hunt intensely dispute.

Mr Hunt has upheld the view that Iran is “totally wrong” in their behaviour and said although the decision for protection was unlikely to be a “magic wand”, that it was still a step in the right direction.

It also demonstrates “to the whole world that Nazanin is innocent”, he added.

However, Iran do not recognise dual nationals and therefore to do recognise Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s right to be represented by Britain, which poses challenges for the Foreign Secretary.

And it has been said her new legal status does not ensure she will be protected from Iranian behaviour but instead allows Britain to raise greater awareness with ease at international forums like the United Nations, according to BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale.

Husband of the jailed British-Iranian who has been vocal since her unjust imprisonment told Sky News the move was a “big step” that was “hugely uplifting”.

“I think one of the most important things a government can do is recognise injustice when it happens – and that’s what he’s done here.

He added: “I think it’s profoundly important.”

Although Iran is unlikely to take dramatic steps towards the decision made, it is hoped the dialogue can be opened for more negotiations to resolve the issue in an amicable way, before Britain are forced to take Iran to international court.

Other options are to sanction the country or summon its ambassador.

But one of the main concerns is that of her health after it was reported Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was being denied doctor treatment to examine lumps in her breast, severe neck pain and numbness in her arms and legs.

She has also carried out a hunger strike to protest her innocence.

Her husband has previously sustained she was told by judges in court, that her case is related to the purchase of Iranian Chieftain tanks in the 1970s, a payment of £400 million that the UK has supposedly never paid.

 

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