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Johnson raises Zaghari-Ratcliffe case in talks with Iranian minister

He is attending talks in Brussels focused on the Iran nuclear deal amid concerns about Donald Trump’s opposition to the agreement.

Boris Johnson has raised the plight of imprisoned British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with his Iranian counterpart on the margins of an international summit.

The Foreign Secretary highlighted the case as he attended talks in Brussels focused on the Iran nuclear deal amid concerns about US President Donald Trump’s opposition to the agreement.

Mr Johnson used the meeting to discuss Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, as well as other dual-national consular cases and the treatment of the BBC Persian service, with Tehran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Mother-of-one Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in 2016 during a holiday visit to show her baby daughter Gabriella to her parents.

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard Ratcliffe and their daughter Gabriella (Family handout/PA)

The 39-year-old, from Hampstead, north London, is serving a five-year sentence over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Tehran government.

Mr Johnson tweeted: “Raised all our Iranian dual-national consular cases and the treatment of BBC Persian with @JZarif – UK continues to press for the observation of human rights and press freedom in Iran.”

The main focus of the talks, attended by French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel and EU high representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini, was the nuclear deal.

The US has said it would consider scrapping the 2015 deal, in which Iran restricted its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief, but the EU parties remain committed to the agreement.

Mr Johnson tweeted: “The Iran nuclear deal makes the world safer. European partners were unanimous today in our determination to preserve the deal and tackle Iran’s disruptive behaviour.”

The director of Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen, said: “It’s encouraging that Boris Johnson continues to raise Nazanin’s case with the Iranian authorities.

“After expectations were raised ahead of Christmas that Nazanin might be released on humanitarian grounds, we’re faced yet again with the prospect of more campaigning to get her released and out of Iran.

“As we’ve said over and over again, Nazanin is a charity worker serving a gruelling five-year sentence after having endured solitary confinement and a deeply unfair trial.

“Worryingly, the Iranian authorities have a record of toying with the fate of prisoners held for ‘political’ reasons, so we’re by no means confident that her release is imminent.”

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