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Aid worker detained in Iran tells Boris Johnson she ‘lived in the shadow of his words’

By Alistair Smout
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard and daughter Gabriella arriving in Downing Street. Photo: Victoria Jones

Boris Johnson made no apology to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after she told him she had “lived in the shadow of his words” during years in an Iranian jail, her husband Richard has said.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was meeting the British prime minister for the first time since her release in March, and the first time since he wrongly told a parliamentary committee as foreign secretary in 2017 that she had been training journalists in Iran.

His words were used by the Tehran authorities as proof that she was working against the Iranian state, rather than visiting her parents in the country as she claimed.

Mr Johnson met the British-Iranian aid worker who was released after six years of detention in Iran and who has criticised the UK government for not getting her home sooner.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe returned to London in March when she was released along with another dual national after Britain repaid a historic debt. It was the first time she had met Mr Johnson, who was foreign secretary between 2016 and 2018.

She has criticised the length of time it took to secure her release, asking in March, shortly after she returned, “how many foreign secretaries does it take for someone to come home? Five?”

Asked ahead of yesterday’s meeting if Mr Johnson would apologise to Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, his spokesman said: “It’s important to remember that it was the Iranian government who were responsible for her unfair detention.”

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested by Revolutionary Guards at Tehran airport on April 3, 2016, while trying to return to Britain with her then 22-month-old daughter, Gabriella, from an Iranian New Year’s trip to see her parents.

She was convicted of “plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment”.

Her family and her employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, denied the charge. The Thomson Reuters Foundation is a charity that operates independently of Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters.

Tulip Siddiq, an opposition politician who campaigned for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release, said that she “deserves to hear directly from the prime minister about why it took so long to get her home”.

Ms Siddiq had said she was also going to raise the case of Morad Tahbaz, an Iranian-American environmentalist who also holds British citizenship who remains detained in Iran.

“Never again must the government allow British citizens to be taken hostage with so little done to secure their release and so few reprisals for those responsible,” Ms Siddiq said.


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Dive Deeper:
No apology from Boris Johnson, after hostage Nazanin tells him she ‘lived in the shadow of his words’
Former detainee urges prime minister to answer questions at inquiry
Released Aid Worker Tells UK’s Johnson His Error Worsened Her Iran Detention
British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on Friday told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that an incorrect comment he made as foreign…
Blundering Boris Johnson told by Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe how 'she lived in the shadow of his words'
The freed British-Iranian journalist gave it straight to the Prime Minister over his previous comments that were widely seen as…
PM does not apologise after Nazanin tells him she lived in ‘shadow of his words’
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband said Boris Johnson did not specifically apologise for his mistake during her Iranian detention.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe tells Johnson she ‘lived in shadow’ of his wrong comments for years – as it happened
Zaghari-Ratcliffe meets PM for first time since her release and her MP Tulip Siddique says Johnson was ‘surprised’ by impact…
UK PM Johnson meets British-Iranian aid worker for first time since her release
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday met Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian aid worker who was released after six years…
Get all your news in one place