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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 March 2019

Iran mulls response to UK's 'political' diplomatic protection of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

British-Iranian charity worker has been in an Iranian jail since September 2016

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that Britain will exercise diplomatic protection in the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to secure her release. EPA
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that Britain will exercise diplomatic protection in the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to secure her release. EPA

Iran is considering its response to a British move to provide diplomatic protection to a UK citizen detained in Tehran, foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on Tuesday.

British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been in jail in Iran since September 2016 for supposedly planning to topple the Iranian government – charges she vehemently denies.

"It should be noted that this action by the UK government does not in itself create any new legal status … and merely reflects a political decision by the United Kingdom government," Mr Ghasemi said in Tehran, according to Iran’s YJC news network. However, he said the government was looking at the relevant legal and political dimensions to the move and would respond accordingly.

He pointed out that under Iranian law the country does not recognise dual nationally and therefore considers Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case as a domestic issue.

Mr Ghasemi also said that the British move complicated the case.

The British government has demanded Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release and petitioned Tehran to allow her to leave the country.

The British Foreign Office recently escalated its bid to secure her release by granting her diplomatic protection. It is an official recognition by the British government that Iran had not met its obligations under international rules in regard to her treatment and makes it a formal matter between the states.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the decision had not been made lightly, describing Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe as an "innocent woman" separated from her daughter and husband.

“We have been working hard to secure her release but despite repeated efforts have not been successful. We have not even been able to secure her the medical treatment she urgently needs despite assurances to the contrary.”

Updated: March 12, 2019 03:52 PM

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