Britain: Former Iranian-British hostage blames Johnson for fatal mistake

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LONDON (Reuters) – British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, released in March after six years in detention in Iran, told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday that a misguided comment from him when he was secretary of State in Foreign Affairs had weighed heavily on his fate.

Former Thomson Reuters Foundation charity worker and fellow Iranian-British humanitarian Anousheh Ashouri have been released after Britain cleared an old debt of more than £400million (470 million euros) to Iran.

In 2017, Boris Johnson said that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, project director at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, had taught journalism to the public before his arrest in 2016, which was incorrect.

This comment contradicted statements by Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her employer, who said she was vacationing in Iran and visiting family.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was then convicted of conspiracy to overthrow religious power.

Boris Johnson then reversed his statements and apologized.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was released from house arrest in March 2021, after serving a five-year sentence, but was immediately arraigned on charges of propaganda against the Iranian state, for which she was sentenced to one year in prison.

“She told him very clearly and categorically that his statements had a great impact on her and that she had lived in the shadow of his words for almost four and a half years,” said MP Tulip Siddiq, who has attended the meeting between Boris Johnson and the family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

“I must say the Prime Minister looked quite shocked.”

A spokesperson for Boris Johnson declined to comment.

(Report Alistair Smout; French version Camille Raynaud edited by)

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