- Chris J Ratcliffe / Getty
- Richard Ratcliffe said his wife is in anguish over her continued detention.
- Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been in prison in Iran since 2016.
- Ratcliffe said she is upset with “shambles” which saw Johnson appear to back up Iranian accusations against her.
- Johnson phoned Ratcliffe over the weekend to express his apologies.
LONDON – The husband of a British women imprisoned in Iran has denounced Boris Johnson for comments earlier this month which may have worsened her plight.
Richard Ratcliffe, who is married to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, said his wife is angry at the “shambles” surrounding her detention on charges of spreading propaganda, which she and the British government both say are baseless.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in Tehran last March, and since then has been in prison while the Foreign Office, which Johnson leads, tries to secure her release.
But the process was complicated when Johnson mistakenly suggested in parliament that the Iranian regime’s accusations may be true.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was brought to tears after learning of the foreign secretary’s remarks and is now “on the verge of a nervous breakdown” in Iran where she is currently imprisoned, he said in a conversation reported by the Guardian on Sunday.
Johnson’s mistaken claim that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran to teach journalism when she was arrested in Tehran last year is being used against her as evidence as she faces another five years being added to her sentence.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, her husband, and her employers have all rejected Johnson’s claim as false.
“She expressed anger at the Guards, but also at the foreign secretary, that it had become such a shambles,” Ratcliffe said while describing a phone call with his wife.
He added that lumps had been found in her breasts and the state of her mental wellbeing had deteriorated.
Johnson, who is under pressure to resign over the Zaghari-Ratcliffe case, had a phone call with her husband in which he said he was “deeply sorry for Nazanin’s suffering,” Ratcliffe revealed over the weekend.
Gove lambasted for “concerning and irresponsible” intervention
Johnson’s colleague Michael Gove was accused of worsening Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s situation yesterday after telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr that he wasn’t sure what the Brit was doing in Iran when she was arrested in 2016.
The environment secretary said he would “take her husband’s assurance” that she was not in Iran to teach journalism when she was arrested in Tehran but said he didn’t know for sure. This was a deviation from the UK government’s official position, which is that the imprisoned Brit was in Iran for a holiday, and definitely not to teach journalism.
His response prompted his Conservative party colleague Anna Soubry to tweet: “A deeply concerning and irresponsible response. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was on holiday – it’s also govt policy.”
Jon Trickett, Labour’s shadow cabinet office minister, said: “Boris Johnson’s cavalier approach to international diplomacy is compounded this morning by Michael Gove claiming he has no idea what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing in Iran. It has always been clear, she was on holiday visiting her family.
“It appears Gove is more interested in protecting Johnson’s job than the liberty of a British citizen in jail in Iran.
“Theresa May must ensure Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe does not pay the price for her ministers’ bungling.”