Husband of detained Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has ‘positive’ talk with Truss

·3 min read

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says “good” talks have taken place with Liz Truss about his wife’s return from Iran.

Richard Ratcliffe told the Foreign Secretary during a 10-minute phone call on Sunday that his wife’s case should be the top priority and wants to see the Government tackle hostage-taking head on.

His wife, a British-Iranian dual national, has been in custody in the country since 2016 after being accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

It comes as Liz Truss is heading to the United Nations General Assembly in New York where she is set to speak with Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Richard Ratcliffe
Richard Ratcliffe said the talk went well (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Mr Ratcliffe told the PA news agency on Sunday: “It was a 10-minute phone call with the Foreign Secretary while she was at the airport today, she essentially spoke about the situation with Nazanin and assured me it was a concern of hers.

“It was nice to hear, considering she is three days into the new job, and is earlier than expected.

“I think it went well overall, she asked me how I wanted to see things – I told her that Nazanin has been used as a bargaining chip of the Iranian government for some time and that I wanted to see Iranian hostage-taking disincentivised.

“She said it is obviously terrible what has happened, as I let her know that as a family we’ve had it hard over the past few years.

“I think she was reasonably open with everything, I know you can’t really tell over the phone, but she let me say my piece and said we should keep in touch over the issue – but it’s too early to tell what will happen yet.”

Liz Truss
The call took place before Liz Truss flew to New York (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Ratcliffe earlier said that he had given Ms Truss the names of 10 people he accuses of being involved with “hostage-taking” in Iran.

He called on the Foreign Secretary to ensure Iran is made aware this is an “unacceptable practice”.

Mr Ratcliffe added: “I thought it was a good phone call, I am pleased it happened, but also surprised that it happened so quickly – I’m sure we’ll have more strident conversations after she has returned from New York.

“The chat was more open than you would have thought, she definitely listened to me which is obviously a good sign early on, but I’m always pessimistic, having had this conversation with her predecessors.

“The situation is still so delicate and ambiguous, however it’s possible that Nazanin could be returned home and it’s possible she could be put back in jail.

“At this stage it would be useful to see more action rather than reassuring words – but this is a positive step, there was a clear dialogue there.”

Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Amnesty International UK, said: “One of the things we’d like to see most urgently from the new Foreign Secretary is a clearly articulated strategy for securing the release of British nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran.

“The plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Anoosheh Ashoori and other UK nationals held in Iran has extended across the last four foreign secretaries – it’s long past time that the UK finally brought this deeply distressing episode to an end.”

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