John­son in trou­ble af­ter re­mark about de­tained mother

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - WORLD -

A BRI­TISH ac­coun­tant fight­ing for his wife’s re­lease from an Ira­nian jail is now at the cen­tre of a diplo­matic storm that has led to calls for For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son to re­sign.

More than 19 months since his wife was ar­rested at Tehran air­port, Richard Rat­cliffe said all he wanted was to be re­united with his wife and daugh­ter in time for the hol­i­days.

“The best case sce­nario is to get her home by Christ­mas,” the softly-spo­ken 42-year-old said.

Dual na­tional Nazanin Zaghari-Rat­cliffe has been jailed on sedi­tion charges, while her daugh­ter Gabriella, now three, had her Bri­tish pass­port con­fis­cated and has since been liv­ing with her grand­par­ents in Iran.

“We’re ob­vi­ously a very trun­cated, bro­ken up fam­ily at the mo­ment,” said Rat­cliffe, who speaks to his wife by phone and has Skype con­ver­sa­tions with his daugh­ter.

Via Skype “we can cud­dle each other and share food and cups of tea”, he said.

Na­tional at­ten­tion has fallen on his case in re­cent days, af­ter John­son said last week Zaghari-Rat­cliffe had been train­ing jour­nal­ists in Iran, com­ments which the Ira­nian ju­di­ciary has since used to jus­tify her de­ten­tion.

Her fam­ily and em­ployer, the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion, a me­dia char­ity where she worked as a project man­ager, have in­sisted that she was on hol­i­day in Iran. John­son has said his words were mis­in­ter­preted.

An ed­i­to­rial in The Times yes­ter­day said John­son’s po­si­tion was vul­ner­a­ble and would be­come un­ten­able if the Ira­nian ju­di­ciary were to use his re­marks to jus­tify fur­ther de­ten­tion of Zaghari-Rat­cliffe. – AFP

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