Britain's Gove offers support to foreign secretary over Iran comments

Pauline Gross
November 14, 2017

"Boris Johnson's cavalier approach to worldwide diplomacy is compounded this morning by Michael Gove claiming he has no idea what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing in Iran".

Mr Gove insisted there was "no reason" for the detention and said: "There is nothing the Iranian regime would like more than for the attention to be shifted off them and on to us".

Mr Ratcliffe said she again suggested she was on "the verge of a nervous breakdown" and had been "brought to tears" at the "lies" being shown on Iranian television about her case.

Mr Johnson's comments about Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe have sparked fears the 38-year-old could face a longer jail sentence.

The Foreign Secretary admitted his remarks "could and should have been clearer" when he previously stated the British-Iranian national was training journalists in Iran prior to her arrest.

Labour's shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said: "His pride matters not one ounce [compared] to her freedom".

Asked if she was training journalists, he said: "Well, her husband says that she was there on holiday, and he's the person who should know".

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In spite of calls to do so, Johnson did not fully backtrack on his comments, nor did he apologise.

The consultant said the lumps were likely to be benign but her family history of breast cancer, along with the pain, meant she should be kept under "close surveillance".

"But he also knows that words matter, and every time he says things like "my words were simply left open to misinterpretation" he provides a lack of clarity that sounds like he's wriggling in a way that other people can exploit".

But Mr Ratcliffe did reveal his anger with the Government's handling of his wife's case, adding: "Don't get me wrong, I've not always been happy with the Government, the Government knows that behind closed doors, the Government knows that on the media and so on".

Johnson was criticised for incorrectly stating that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in the country in a working capacity. "I do apologise, and of course I retract any suggestion that she was there in a professional capacity". I should have been clearer. "I apologise for the distress and anguish that has been caused to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family".

Mr Johnson has faced calls to resign over mistaken remarks made to MPs, where he claimed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been "teaching journalism" in Tehran when she was arrested 19 months ago - rather than visiting relatives as her family claims.

The Herald recently reported that Nazanin, who is already serving a five-year jail term, is now facing fresh charges and could face an additional 16 years of imprisonment if convicted.

Other reports by GizPress

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