Boris Johnson meets British-Iranian aid worker for first time since release

LONDON, May 13 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met on Friday with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian aid worker who was released after six years in detention in Iran and who criticized the government for not having taken her home earlier.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe returned to London in March when she was released with another dual national after Britain repaid a historic debt. Read more

It was the first time she had met Johnson, who served as foreign secretary between 2016 and 2018.

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She criticized the length of time it took to secure his release, asking in March shortly after his return, “How many foreign secretaries does it take to get someone home? Five?” Read more

Asked ahead of Friday’s meeting whether Johnson would apologize to Zaghari-Ratcliffe, his spokesman said: “It is important to remember that it was the Iranian government that was responsible for his unjust detention.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested by Revolutionary Guards at Tehran airport on April 3, 2016, as she attempted to return to Britain with her then 22-month-old daughter Gabriella after a New Year’s Eve trip. An Iranian to see his parents. She was found guilty of “conspiracy to overthrow the clerical establishment”.

His family and his employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, have denied the charge. The Thomson Reuters Foundation is an independent charitable organization of Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters.

Tulip Siddiq, an opposition MP representing Zaghari-Ratcliffe constituency who campaigned for her release, said she ‘deserved to hear directly from the Prime Minister why it took so long to get her home’ .

Siddiq had said she would also raise the case of Morad Tahbaz, an Iranian-American environmentalist who also holds British citizenship and is still being held in Iran. Read more

“Never again must the government allow British citizens to be taken hostage with so little action to secure their release and so little retribution for those responsible,” Siddiq said in a statement.

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Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Edward L. Robinett