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Britain's Johnson to meet husband of aid worker jailed in Iran

15 November 2017

The meeting will also discuss concerns about Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's health and Mr Johnson's plan to travel to Iran before the end of the year.

Summoned to the Commons, Mr Johnson told MPs: 'Of course I apologise for the distress and suffering caused by the impression I gave that the Government believe, and I believe, that she was there in a professional capacity.

Speaking to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, he said: "Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, nor her family, has been informed about what crime she has actually committed".

Ministers say the mother of one was detained in April last year after visiting relatives in Iran and subsequently jailed for five years after being accused of plotting to overthrow the Islamic Republic.

He said he would discuss the idea of giving Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protection in a meeting with her husband this week. She is staying with her grandparents in Tehran.

Mr Johnson's comments had led to calls for him to quit, but Mr Ratcliffe has said it is not in his wife's interests for there to be any resignations, and instead the Foreign Secretary should clean up the mess he had created.

He said her mood was "uncontrollable" and revealed that she had experienced pain in her breasts and been taken to hospital for an ultrasound, which found lumps.

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A statement from the Foreign Office said that Mr Johnson had "made it clear that no stone should be left unturned" in securing the release of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Johnson's Tehran visit, expected in the next few weeks, had originally been conceived as a marker of strengthening Anglo-Iranian relations after signing the Iran nuclear deal, but without a breakthrough ahead of his visit, the meetings with Iranian officials are likely to be dominated by the issue of her release.

Johnson came under pressure to resign after comments he made earlier this month that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been teaching people journalism before her arrest in April 2016.

The foreign secretary has sought advice from officials to determine whether conferring the status could help, including what impact it would have on the support provided and the representations being made on Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's behalf, according to the United Kingdom government.

He said: 'She has been very angry for a number of days. She loses her temper over the smallest things.

Ratcliffe will meet Johnson and his consular specialists at the Foreign Office on Wednesday.

The family's local MP Tulip Siddiq told Sky News that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe had sobbed inconsolably during an earlier phone call with her husband, saying: 'She just said that she couldn't believe that Boris Johnson would make those comments.

Britain's Johnson to meet husband of aid worker jailed in Iran