Corbyn joins over 200 MPs in signing letter to new PM over release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

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Pressure on the new prime minister to act over Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe increased when more than 200 MPs called for him to secure her safe release from Iran.

Shortly before the new Tory leader was announced on Tuesday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn joined MPs from across the political spectrum in stressing it should be a PM’s “first duty” to protect British citizens.

The British-Iranian mother has languished in detention since her arrest in 2016.

New prime minister Boris Johnson faced heavy criticism over his words about Zaghari-Ratcliffe when he was foreign secretary.

 

The letter, reportedly from 231 MPs, came amid increasing tensions between the UK and Iran, which began when Royal Marines helped to seize an Iranian oil tanker in the Mediterranean on 4 July.

“We appreciate that your ‘to-do’ list is significant, but we want to take this opportunity to write regarding Iran’s unfair imprisonment of British nationals and residents used for diplomatic leverage,” they wrote.

“We have very strong humanitarian and health concerns about the continued unlawful imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and several other individuals.”

They asked the government to use “robust protections”, including options under diplomatic protection, to aid Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

“We believe that it should be a prime minister’s first duty to protect British citizens, including those who are unfairly held overseas,” they concluded.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe detained
Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of detained Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, outside the Iranian Embassy (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The letter was shared by Tulip Siddiq, the Ratcliffe family’s constituency MP, who has campaigned for her release.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 and sentenced to five years imprisonment after being accused of spying, which she vehemently denies.

In a much-criticised error, Boris Johnson said in 2017 that she was in Iran “teaching people journalism” – despite her family’s insistence that she was there to visit relatives.

The mother’s fight for freedom has seen her endure hunger strikes, separation from her daughter and solitary confinement, amid the major diplomatic row.

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