Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: UK government ‘will not rest’ until all British nationals held in Iran are released

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard Ratcliffe said he had “good” talks with the new Foreign Secretary Liz Truss

The Foreign Secretary has laid out her plans to press for the release of British nationals held in Iran, including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Liz Truss, who was appointed Foreign Secretary last week, is to meet the Iranian foreign minister on Monday 20 September at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

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She will tell her counterpart that the UK is “not going to drop” the fight to get British nationals home.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said Ms Truss and the government “will not rest until we get them all home”.

What is on the Foreign Secretary’s agenda?

At the top of the agenda will be the push to bring home all UK nationals currently imprisoned in Iran. Ms Truss is expected to bring up the cases of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Anoosheh Ashoori and Morad Tahbaz.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, has been in custody in Iran since 2016 after being accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said he had “good” talks with Ms Truss during a 10-minute phone call on Sunday. He urged the Foreign Secretary that his wife’s case should be a top priority.

Mr Ratcliffe gave Ms Truss 10 names of people he accuses of being involved with “hostage-taking” in Iran, calling on the Foreign Secretary to make Iran aware this is an “unacceptable practice”.

“The chat was more open than you would have thought, she definitely listened to me which is obviously a good sign early on, but I’m always pessimistic, having had this conversation with her predecessors.  I’m sure we’ll have more strident conversations after she has returned from New York,” he said.

Nuclear commitments will also be on the agenda as the Foreign Secretary sets to call on Iran to comply with the nuclear deal.

“The UK, US and our international partners are fully committed to a nuclear deal, but every day that Iran continues to delay talks whilst escalating its own nuclear programme means there is less space for diplomacy,” Ms Truss said.

What’s been said?

Foreign office minister James Cleverly has expressed his faith in the new Foreign Secretary, he said: “She’s an incredibly focused and energetic minister, she’s well-regarded for that, and I have no doubt that she will apply that energy to these negotiations.”

He told Sky News the UK Government “will continue pushing” and “will not rest until we get them all home.”

However, Cleverly refused on LBC to report how many British dual nationals were being held in Iran. “It’s not always in the best interest of the individuals for their cases to be publicised,” he said.

Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Amnesty International UK, has called on the government to start acting by creating a thorough strategy in securing the release of British nationals.

“The plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Anoosheh Ashoori and other UK nationals held in Iran has extended across the last four foreign secretaries – it’s long past time that the UK finally brought this deeply distressing episode to an end.”

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