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Britain 'could do more' to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

The British government "hasn't done all it could have done" to secure the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (photo), the Thomson Reuters manager jailed in Iran, her husband said on Monday.

She was arrested during a visit to Iran in April 2016 and accused of trying to overthrow the government of Iran, which she denies. At a trial, she was sentenced to five years imprisonment. Details of the allegations against her have never been made fully public.

In a telephone call over the weekend, Richard Ratcliffe asked British foreign secretary Boris Johnson to consider diplomatic protection for his wife. He hopes to meet Johnson and accompany him on a trip to Iran. Under international law, diplomatic protection is a way for a state to take diplomatic action on behalf of a national.

Ratcliffe said that Johnson "did promise to consider whether she'll be eligible for diplomatic protection" which "gives a different push" to what the government can do for his wife.

Speaking to BBC radio, Ratcliffe also said he had written to the Foreign Office following remarks made by cabinet minister Michael Gove, who said he did not know what she had been doing in Iran when she was arrested.

Her family have always maintained she was in Iran on holiday with her daughter, Gabriella, then aged 18 months. The child is being looked after by Zaghari-Ratcliffe's parents in Tehran.

"I'm reassured that it is the position of the government," Ratcliffe said.

But speaking on 1 November, Johnson appeared to contradict her own account when he wrongly stated she had been training journalists.

Four days later, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was recalled to court in Iran and Johnson's remark was cited as evidence against her, prompting fears that her five-year sentence could be extended.

Her husband said he still hopes his family will be reunited by the end of the year.

"I think the best chance Nazanin has of coming home this side of Christmas is all of the weight of the Foreign Office and the foreign secretary being focused on doing that," he said.

Ratcliffe said over the weekend his wife has seen the prison gynaecologist and a hospital specialist after finding lumps in her breasts. He also expressed concern that she appeared to be "on the verge of a nervous breakdown”. ■