Johnson lobbies Iran again over jailed Briton

Boris Johnson has again lobbied Iran over the case of jailed British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The Foreign Secretary met with Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of an international summit on Thursday.

Posting on Twitter after the meeting, Mr Johnson revealed he had “raised all our Iranian dual-national consular cases” during the pair’s talks.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian national, has been imprisoned in Tehran since being arrested in April 2016 as she attempted to return to the UK after visiting family.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, her husband Richard and their daughter Gabriella

Image: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, her husband Richard and their daughter Gabriella

Last month, Mr Johnson travelled to Iran to discuss the 39-year-old’s case with Mr Zarif.

It followed outrage at the Foreign Secretary’s mistaken claim Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was training journalists in Iran prior to her arrest, which sparked fears the mother-of-one could face a longer jail sentence.

Mr Johnson was forced to apologise for the gaffe.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, recently suggested his wife is “close” to returning home – after she was made eligible for early release – but saw his hopes of her leaving jail in time for Christmas dashed.

Mr Johnson also used his meeting with Mr Zarif to raise the treatment of the BBC’s Persian service, adding on Twitter: “UK continues to press for the observation of human rights and press freedom in Iran.”

The pair met in Brussels after they both travelled to the Belgian capital for wider talks on the Iran nuclear deal, along with France and Germany’s foreign ministers and the EU’s foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.

After the summit, Mr Johnson revealed European nations were “unanimous” in a “determination to preserve the deal and tackle Iran’s disruptive behaviour”.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), was adopted in January 2016 and curbs Iran’s nuclear capability in return for the easing of economic sanctions against Tehran.

However, its future has been thrown into doubt after US President Donald Trump refused to continue to back the deal.

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Speaking in Brussels, Mr Johnson challenged those who criticise the agreement to “come up with a better solution because we haven’t seen it so far”.

“I don’t think anybody so far has produced a better alternative… as a way of preventing the Iranians from going ahead with the acquisition of a military nuclear capability,” he said.