JEREMY Hunt last night gave Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protection in a bid to free the British mum from jail in Iran.
The Foreign Secretary said he was using the rarely used mechanism to ratchet up the pressure on the Iranian government to free the charity worker from her five-year prison sentence.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been granted diplomatic protection by Jeremy Hunt[/caption]
But there is no guarantee the move will work – and could even sour relations further with Iran.
Granting Nazanin diplomatic protection means she will be treated as a state v state dispute rather than just a consular issue.
And it means Britain could launch legal action against Iran at the International Court of Justice on charges of wrongful imprisonment.
The 41-year-old dual British-Iranian national has been languishing in an Iranian prison – accused of spying.
Mr Hunt said the move was recognition of Iran’s failure to meet its obligations under international law over its treatment of Nazanin.
While he acknowledged the move was unlikely to be a “magic wand” that secures her immediate release, he said it elevated the dispute over her detention to a formal state-to-state issue.
The announcement was welcomed by her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, who has been lobbying ministers to take the step for some time.
“It is a very clear statement and so hopefully the Iranian authorities will realise this has gone on too long. They cannot play games like this with ordinary people’s lives,” he said.
My decision is an important diplomatic step which signals to Tehran that its behaviour is totally wrong
In reaching his decision, Mr Hunt said he had taken into account Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s “unacceptable treatment” by Iran since she was detained in 2016, including the denial of medical treatment and the lack of due process in the proceedings against her.
The Foreign Secretary said Tehran’s actions had been “totally wrong” and that no state was entitled to use innocent individuals as “pawns for diplomatic leverage”.
“This represents formal recognition by the British Government that her treatment fails to meet Iran’s obligations under international law and elevates it to a formal state-to-state issue,” he said in a statement.
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“My decision is an important diplomatic step which signals to Tehran that its behaviour is totally wrong.
“It is unlikely to be a magic wand that leads to an overnight result. But it demonstrates to the whole world that Nazanin is innocent and the UK will not stand by when one of its citizens is treated so unjustly.
“I know there are many in Iran who understand the unjustness of this situation. No government should use innocent individuals as pawns for diplomatic leverage so I call on Iran to release this innocent woman so she can be reunited with her family.”
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he used the mechanism to ratchet up the pressure on the Iranian government[/caption]
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