Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband, daughter and her local member of parliament at 10 Downing St. May 13, 2022

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband, daughter and her local member of parliament, at 10 Downing St. May 13, 2022

Former Hostage Tells UK's Johnson His Error Worsened Her Iran Detention


Former British-Iranian hostage Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on Friday told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that an incorrect comment he made as foreign secretary had a big impact on her six-year detention in Iran.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe returned to London in March when she was released along with another dual national after Britain repaid a historic debt.

It was the first time she had met Johnson, who in 2017 erroneously said she had been teaching people journalism before her arrest in April 2016. His comment contradicted statements made by Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her employer, who said she had been on holiday visiting family.

She was subsequently convicted of plotting to overthrow the clerical regime.

Johnson later apologized and retracted any suggestion that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was there in a professional capacity.

Her local member of parliament, who attended the meeting, said Zaghari-Ratcliffe had told Johnson to his face about the problems his mistake had caused.

"I had to say the prime minister looked quite shocked," Tulip Siddiq told reporters.

It is not clear if Iran would have released Zaghari-Ratcliffe earlier if Johnson had not made the mistake.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said Johnson did not explicitly apologize for his error, but the encounter had not been "abrasive".

"It was an honor to welcome Nazanin, Richard and Gabriella to Downing Street today," Johnson wrote on Twitter, but he did not address his mistaken comment in 2017.

"We discussed the UK’s work to secure the release of unfairly detained nationals in Iran and I commended Nazanin for her incredible bravery during her ordeal."

Reporting by Reuters

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