Britain's trade minister says Johnson did not make a gaffe over aid worker jailed in Iran

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 07, 2017 2:58 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson did not make a gaffe when he commented about the activities of jailed Iranian-British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Britain's trade minister Liam Fox said on Tuesday.

Johnson told the British parliament's foreign affairs committee on Nov. 1 that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been teaching people journalism, a statement that the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a charity organization for which she works, said was incorrect.

"I don't believe that it is a serious gaffe. I think people in the Iranian regime ... are using this as an excuse to hold a UK citizen in the most tenuous, if not illegal, circumstances," Fox told Sky news.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is serving a five-year jail sentence after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran's clerical establishment, was brought into court on Saturday, three days after Johnson's remarks, and accused by a judge of "spreading propaganda against the regime," the Thomson Reuters Foundation said.

The charges against Zaghari-Ratcliffe are denied by her family and the Foundation, a charity organization that operates independently of Reuters News.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Mike Collett-White)