Boris Johnson was asked to help secure the release of a British mum imprisoned in Iran – but has instead landed her in deeper trouble.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works in a non-journalistic role for the Thompson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016 after visiting family with her baby daughter, Gabriella.
The 38-year-old British-Iranian citizen, who lives in London, was charged with plotting against Iran and sentenced to five years in prison.
Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, had publicly called on the Foreign Secretary to intervene in the case and reunite the family in time for Christmas.
Johnson did call for her release during his appearance in front of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee on November 1.
But a mistake he made about her case has now led to Zaghari-Ratcliffe being hauled before court on new charges.
Johnson told MPs: “We have to be very careful about this because we want them released.”
Yet moments later, he added: “When you look at what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing, she was simply teaching people journalism, as I understand it.”
The Thompson Reuters Foundation welcomed Johnson’s statement but urged him to correct it to make clear that Zaghari-Ratcliffe is not a journalist and was not training journalists in Iran.
He does not appear to have done so because the Foundation today issued a desperate plea for Johnson to “immediately correct the serious mistake”.
They did so after Zaghari-Ratcliffe was hauled before a Court this Saturday on new charges of “spreading propaganda against the regime.”
In a statement issued yesterday, the Iranian judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights said:
“For months it was claimed that Nazanin is a British-Iranian charity worker who went to see her family when she was arrested. Mr Johnson’s statement has shed new light on the realities about Nazanin.”
Monique Villa, the CEO of the Thompson Reuters Foundation, said both she and Richard Ratcliffe see a “direct correlation” between Johnson’s statement and the new charges, which could see her sentence doubled.
This clown treats the world as his stage – but the act is really not funny anymore…