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Husband of woman jailed in Iran urges Johnson to take him on diplomatic mission

She is serving a five-year sentence for plotting the “soft toppling” of Iran’s government.

The husband of a British woman jailed in Iran is urging Boris Johnson to take him on his forthcoming diplomatic mission to Tehran amid growing fears over her health.

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife Nazanin had “expressed anger” at the Foreign Secretary over the “shambles” her case has become, but he did not believe Mr Johnson should be forced to quit.

He disclosed Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe saw a medical specialist on Saturday after finding lumps on her breasts and is “on the verge of a nervous breakdown”.

Mr Johnson told a Commons committee earlier this month that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was “training journalists” in Iran at the time of her arrest last year.

The comments were used in Tehran to justify threats to extend her jail term.

After speaking to the Foreign Secretary by phone on Sunday morning, Mr Ratcliffe said it was not in his wife’s interests for her case to be hit “by more instability”.

Boris Johnson has a "crucial role in the weeks ahead to stand up for Nazanin", her husband said (Yui Mok/PA)

He added: “So that this is clear – for the media, Government and particularly for authorities in Iran – as Nazanin’s husband, I do not believe it is in Nazanin’s interests for there to be any resignations.”

Mr Ratcliffe said the Foreign Secretary “undertook to look seriously at the prospect” of allowing him to join his planned visit to Iran in the coming weeks.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 38-year-old mother of one, has suffered severe physical and mental trauma since being arrested as she tried to leave Tehran last year with her daughter Gabriella following a holiday.

The charity worker was accused of plotting to topple the regime, which she denies, and was later sentenced to five years in prison.

On Saturday she was taken to Iranmehr hospital, Tehran, to see a specialist for an ultrasound on her breasts.

New lumps have been found and she has complained of sharp stabbing pains in her breasts for some months, Mr Ratcliffe said. It follows a previous inconclusive mammogram.

The consultant said the lumps were likely to be benign but her family history of breast cancer, along with the pain, meant she should be kept under “close surveillance”.

Mr Ratcliffe said she again suggested she was on “the verge of a nervous breakdown” and had been “brought to tears” at the “lies” being shown on Iranian television about her case.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove came under fire after appearing to cast doubt over her actions in the run up to her arrest.

Asked what she was doing in Iran, Mr Gove told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “I don’t know.

“One of the things I want to stress is, there is no reason why Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe should be in prison in Iran, so far as any of us know.”

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said Theresa May must ensure Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe “does not pay the price for her ministers’ bungling”.

“Boris Johnson’s cavalier approach to international diplomacy is compounded this morning by Michael Gove claiming he has no idea what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing in Iran. It has always been clear, she was on holiday visiting her family,” he said.


From Belfast Telegraph