Boris Johnson accused of imperiling jailed UK-Iranian woman

November 6, 2017

LONDON (AP) — A charity on Monday accused British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson of leaving a British-Iranian woman facing more prison time by making an inaccurate statement about why she was in Iran.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is serving a five-year sentence for plotting the “soft toppling” of Iran’s government.

Johnson told a parliamentary committee last week that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was “simply teaching people journalism as I understand it” when she was arrested at Tehran airport last year.

After the remarks Zaghari-Ratcliffe was summoned to an unscheduled court hearing, where Johnson’s comments were cited as proof that she was engaged in “propaganda against the regime.”

The Iranian judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights said Johnson’s comments proved Zaghari-Ratcliffe “had visited the country for anything but a holiday.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s employer, Thomson Reuters Foundation, said she hadn’t been working in Iran but was on vacation, taking her toddler daughter to visit relatives.

Chief executive Monique Villa said Zaghari-Ratcliffe “is not a journalist and has never trained journalists at the Thomson Reuters Foundation,” where she works as a project manager. Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of the news agency.

Villa urged Johnson to correct his “serious mistake,” saying it “can only worsen her sentence.”

Britain’s Foreign Office didn’t clarify Johnson’s comments, but said in a statement that his words “provide no justifiable basis on which to bring any additional charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.”

It said Britain was working to secure Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release. The Foreign Office said that Johnson would call his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, “to raise again his serious concerns about the case and ensure his remarks are not misrepresented.”

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