November 19, 2019
Middle East

UK considers diplomatic immunity for British woman jailed in Iran

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April for alleged 'sedition' (supplied)

The British government is considering granting diplomatic immunity to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe as part of efforts to secure her release from an Iranian prison, the prime minister's spokesman said on Monday.

Theresa May's government is doing everything it can to secure the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the prime minister's spokesman said. One option being considered is diplomatic immunity for Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

"I think that the foreign secretary [Boris Johnson] has obviously spoken with her husband [Richard Ratcliffe] and that is one of the options being looked at," he said.

The government spokesman's comments came hours after Richard Ratcliffe said he did not think Johnson should resign for stating Zaghari-Ratcliffe was "teaching journalists" in Iran, comments which plunged her case into crisis.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in Tehran while on holiday in April 2016 for alleged sedition. Johnson's comments to parliament last week have led to threats from Iran of further charges and a new trial that could double her sentence.

Ratcliffe said on Monday morning that Johnson's remarks could have been clearer.

"Undoubtedly what has been said by the foreign secretary has been used in the Iranian media," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "I don't think it's helpful for Nazanin at this point [for Johnson to resign].

Ratcliffe had earler said his wife had undergone tests for breast cancer in jail and she was "at the end of her tether".

His wife has been complaining for months of sharp pains in her breasts, which has finally led to an ultrasound test on Saturday and medication being prescribed ahead of a follow-up consultation next weekend, he said.

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