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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Rouhani uses Guantanamo defence to dismiss pleas for Nazanin release

The Iranian president said that countries which were complaining about mistreatment of prisoners had problems themselves

Jailed British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabriella. Free Nazanin Campaign/ AFP Photo
Jailed British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabriella. Free Nazanin Campaign/ AFP Photo

The Iranian president Hassan Rouhani dampened down hopes on Friday of the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British woman who has been held in an Iranian prison for more than a year on charges of espionage.

He told CNN that while there was international pressure on his country about the treatment of foreign nationals in Iranian jails, other countries such as America were also overseeing institutions in which prisoners were being abused and “tortured”.

“All of this concern about these folks being detained in Iran what do you say about Guantanamo and other sites in which there have been many hundreds tortured very brutally and it has been verified by international organisations, but the United States never paid attention to such charges,” Mr Rouhani said.

The president went on to remind the world that the legal system in Iran actually forbade him from interfering in the process of trials.

“The judiciary is an independent branch of the government. And the administration cannot interfere in the affairs of the judiciary,” Mr Rouhani said.

"The administration is forbidden from interfering."

When asked why even as president he couldn’t do something about this case, he replied that he was “legally forbidden from interfering."

The president’s remarks come as the British foreign secretary Boris Johnson is set to visit Iran on an official visit on Saturday. A statement released by the Foreign Office stated: “This trip will be the first of a British Foreign Secretary to Iran since 2015 and only the third since 2003.

“In Iran the Foreign Secretary will meet with the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to discuss the bilateral relationship and regional security issues. The Foreign Secretary will raise again concerns about a number of consular cases involving dual nationals and press for their release on humanitarian grounds.”