Prime Minister Boris Johnson accused of ‘misunderstanding’ Zaghari-Ratcliffe affair while UK Foreign Secretary
LONDON: Evidence suggesting Boris Johnson made mistakes over Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case as Britain’s Foreign Secretary emerged on Sunday.
The former charity worker was reunited with her husband, Richard, and daughter, Gabriella, on Thursday after being released by Iran after a six-year detention.
Reports say the release was facilitated by the payment of a nearly £400 million ($527 million) debt by the British government to Iran over a decades-old order for Chieftain tanks.
Prime Minister Johnson called the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe and fellow British-Iranian captive Anoosheh Ashoori “a lot of British diplomacy”.
However, Zaghrari-Ratcliffe family MP Tulip Siddiq has released fresh evidence of the Foreign Office’s shortcomings during her ordeal – and how Johnson failed to even grasp the basic details of the case. case in 2017.
Writing in The Observer newspaper, Siddiq said Foreign Secretary Johnson mistakenly told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was “just teaching people journalism”, which Iran used as evidence of his alleged crimes.
Siddiq expressed in his article his shock when Johnson again showed his ignorance of the case when he met with Richard Ratcliffe to discuss his previous mistake before the committee.
“This disastrous mistake compelled Johnson to meet with us. Again, I raised my concerns about the debt, which he emphatically denied,” she wrote.
“Incredibly, he asked if Richard enjoyed his visit to Iran. Anyone who had read a newspaper article about the case knew Richard was at home in the UK when his wife was arrested in Iran. To this day, I’m amazed at Johnson’s very poor understanding of his case.
She also lamented how the government “wasted time” on the case and how a personal campaign she spearheaded allowed Nazanin to undergo a medical examination, which the British-Iranian captive said meant that She was the best-protected inmate of the infamous Evin prison.
Siddiq also explained how successive UK Prime Ministers have denied a link between the UK’s Chieftain debt and Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s detention, and how it was only last year when Liz Truss became Minister for Foreign Affairs, that the link has been acknowledged.
British MPs are increasingly calling for a thorough investigation into the government’s handling of the case during Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s six-year detention, as well as the Foreign Office’s failings in other areas, including the evacuation from Afghanistan.