Boris Johnson 'endangered' Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's life

Michael Gove
Credit
Reuters

About 20 minutes later, Environment Secretary Michael Gove was asked in a BBC interview what the Briton was doing in Iran and replied: "I don't know".

After talking to his wife on the phone on Sunday, Ratcliffe added he fears she has lost the ability to control her emotions after continued detention.

It follows Mr Johnson's claim that the 38-year-old mother was "training journalists" - which could add five years to her current sentence.

"She is not a journalist and has never trained journalists at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, where she is project manager in my Media Development team", Monique Villa, the charity's chief executive, said.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is being held on allegations relating to espionage, has denied the charges, always maintaining that she was in Tehran to visit family and was not working in the country at the time of her arrest.

Richard Ratcliffe also expressed concern that his wife appeared to be "on the verge of a nervous breakdown".

She was detained at the airport in Tehran in April 2016 on her way back to the United Kingdom from visiting family with Gabriella, her then 22-month-old daughter. "It is too much pressure, as she becomes part of hostile daily news".

The Foreign Secretary has a "constructive" conversation with Richard Ratcliffe as Michael Gove sparks a fresh row.

Ratcliffe said his wife had been brought to tears by "lies" about her case on Iranian television. "One of the things I want to stress is that there is no reason why she should be in prison in Iran as far as I know".

"I think we make a big mistake if we think the right thing to do is to blame politicians in a democracy who are trying to do the right thing for the plight of a women who has been imprisoned by a regime that is a serial abuser of human rights". "Who is in the dock here?"

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's family and employer say she was on holiday visiting family when she was arrested with her daughter at an airport in Tehran.

Gove told the BBC's Andrew Marr he "didn't know" why the woman was in Iran, but that he would "take her husband's assurance" that she was on holiday in the Islamic Republic.

Jeremy Corbyn called on Mr Johnson to go, saying he had been "putting our citizens at risk for long enough", and London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he should resign or be sacked following his "long list of gaffes" as Foreign Secretary. He has urged Johnson to travel with him to Tehran to press for her release and said Sunday the foreign secretary was seriously considering the suggestion.

"There is nothing the Iranian regime would like more than for the attention to be shifted off them and on to us", Mr Gove said.

Earlier this month, Johnson told lawmakers that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was "teaching people journalism" when she was detained a year ago.

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