Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Husband Richard calls on Liz Truss to be ‘brave’ to free wife from Iran

·3-min read
Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has met with the Foreign Secretary (PA) (PA Wire)
Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has met with the Foreign Secretary (PA) (PA Wire)

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on Thursday urged Liz Truss to be “brave” after face to face talks with the Foreign Secretary on how to free his wife from Iran ended in ‘frustration’.

Richard Ratcliffe, who has been on a hunger strike outside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) since Sunday, was meeting with Ms Truss for the first time since she was appointed Foreign Secretary last month.

Afterwards Mr Ratcliffe said he had been encouraged by the concern Ms Truss showed for his wife’s plight, but added that there were no signs of a shift in policy.

“The meeting went as I feared it might as the Foreign Secretary didn’t give us anything new,” Mr Ratcliffe said. “She said we are really committed, we are working really hard but we need to be careful..I said quite stridently you need to do something. You need to be brave.

“So I think we all came away a bit frustrated. The problem is not the minister caring. But in the end the policy approach, that wasn’t changing.”

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to a further 12 months in jail in Iran in April and banned from leaving the country after being found guilty of “propaganda against the establishment”.

The 42-year-old British-Iranian charity worker had just finished serving a five year prison term for espionage.

Ms Truss is the fifth Foreign Secretary Mr Ratcliffe has met in his quest to see his wife released from jail.

“She is a fresh set of eyes, she has said she is open to things,” he added. “But she wasn’t willing to move. I had conversations like that with her predecessors. They were very clear that they see their role as to do no harm and be very careful…after five years those feel like deflection tactics if I am honest.

Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn Tulip Siddiq, Mr Ratcliffe’s local MP, attended the meeting along with his father and uncle.

She said: “I was really heartened when Liz Truss got into post and she called me, she called Nazanin and she called Richard immediately which is a real relief after Foreign Secretaries you can’t get hold of.

“She is well intentioned and in the meeting I felt that as well. I felt she really cared about Richard’s plight.

“But I have to say the rhetoric she used was pretty much the same as all the other Foreign Secretaries we have dealt with. She had good intentions and she cared but it was very hard to get to the heart of what the Government is actually doing.”

The FCDO said it couldn’t comment on the details of a private meeting but added in a statement: “Iran’s decision to proceed with these baseless charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is an appalling continuation of the cruel ordeal she is going through. Instead of threatening to return Nazanin to prison Iran must release her permanently so she can return home.

“We are doing all we can to help Nazanin get home to her young daughter and family and we will continue to press Iran on this point.”

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