UK foreign minister calls Iran official over detained woman

AP News
Posted: Nov 07, 2017 10:37 AM
UK foreign minister calls Iran official over detained woman

LONDON (AP) — Britain's foreign secretary phoned his Iranian counterpart Tuesday to express "his anxiety over the continued suffering" of a British-Iranian woman being held in Iran and expressed contrition for remarks that prompted authorities to threaten to increase her jail sentence.

Boris Johnson urged authorities to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on humanitarian grounds and set out plans to visit Tehran to discuss the case.

He had been under pressure to publicly correct a statement made last week in which he said Zaghari-Ratcliffe was "simply teaching people journalism" when she was detained last year. Zaghari-Ratcliffe's family and her employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, insist she was merely visiting her family.

Johnson accepted Tuesday that "my remarks could have been clearer."

"The U.K. government has no doubt that she was on holiday in Iran when she was arrested last year and that was the sole purpose of her visit," he told lawmakers in the House of Commons.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is serving a five-year sentence for plotting the "soft toppling" of Iran's government, had been told after the remarks to a parliamentary subcommittee last week that she faced more time in prison.

Britain's Foreign Office said Johnson called his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday "to raise again his serious concerns about the case and ensure his remarks are not misrepresented."

Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency, has said Zaghari-Ratcliffe works as a project manager. It said she is not a journalist and has never trained journalists at the foundation.