Foreign Ministry Pursuing Case of Iranian-British Convict

Foreign Ministry Pursuing Case of Iranian-British ConvictForeign Ministry Pursuing Case of Iranian-British Convict

The government has no constitutional jurisdiction over the judicial case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian national convicted on security charges, but it is pursuing the case on humanitarian grounds, the Foreign Ministry's spokesman said.

"This matter rests in the hands of the judiciary. The government and Foreign Ministry are not allowed to intervene. The separation of powers is upheld in Iran, like in Europe," Bahram Qasemi added in a weekly press conference on Monday, Fars News Agency reported.

According to the British media, the issue was expected to top the agenda of last week's meetings between visiting British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and top Iranian officials, including his counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani.

"The Foreign Ministry is following up the case with judicial officials on humanitarian grounds … In view of the [principle of] the separation of powers, the issue must be considered by the judicial system," Qasemi said.  

The spokesman was responding to widespread speculations that Johnson's discussions in Tehran included an attempt to free Zaghari-Ratcliffe who is in prison since April 2016.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, claimed to be a charity worker affiliated with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested just before leaving Iran.

She is now serving a five-year jail sentence for clandestine efforts to spread propaganda against the Iranian government.

Her case drew considerable attention last month, after Johnson suggested she was training journalists in Iran, contradicting claims by the foundation that she was simply on holiday visiting relatives.

Johnson's comments confirmed charges by the Iranian judiciary that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was teaching people how to secretly prepare anti-government content and send them to the Persian service of the British state-run BBC news agency.

Johnson has apologized for his "slip of the tongue", vowing to make every effort to secure the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe.


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