U.K Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt warned Iran to stop jailing innocent people ahead of his first visit to the Islamic Republic.
Britain’s top diplomat said Iran’s hardline regime must release people including charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is currently being held on disputed spying charges.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested during a holiday with her toddler daughter in April 2016. Iranian authorities accuse her of plotting against the government. Her family has denied the allegation and insists she was in Iran to visit family.
Mr. Hunt’s visit is the first by a Western foreign minister since the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal.
“We must see those innocent British-Iranian dual nationals imprisoned in Iran returned to their families in Britain,” Mr. Hunt said. “I have just heard too many heartbreaking stories from families who have been forced to endure a terrible separation.
“So I arrive in Iran with a clear message for the country’s leaders: putting innocent people in prison cannot and must not be used as a tool of diplomatic leverage.”
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has campaigned exhaustively for her release, saying she is suffering extreme mental and physical hardship at the notorious Evin prison.
Iran Airs More Allegations Against Detained British Woman https://t.co/u6holtriOI
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 26, 2017
Mr. Hunt pressed his counterpart Mohammad Zarif on the case in September when they met in New York on the fringes of a United Nations General Assembly.
Others with ties to the West detained in Iran include Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly “infiltrating” the country while doing doctoral research on Iran’s Qajar dynasty. Iranian-Canadian national Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, a member of Iran’s 2015 nuclear negotiating team, is believed to be serving a five-year prison sentence on espionage charges.
Another issue on Mr. Hunt’s agenda is stressing the importance of Iran abiding by the wide-ranging trade sanctions U.S. President Donald Trump implemented earlier this month.
“The Iran nuclear deal remains a vital component of stability in the Middle East by eliminating the threat of a nuclearised Iran,” Hunt said, in a statement issued in London.
“It needs 100-percent compliance though to survive. We will stick to our side of the bargain as long as Iran does.
“But we also need to see an end to destabilizing activity by Iran in the rest of the region if we are going to tackle the root causes of the challenges the region faces.”
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