LONDON (Reuters) - Foreign minister Boris Johnson said Britain would appeal to Iran on humanitarian grounds to free a jailed aid worker but expressed reservations that granting her diplomatic protection would help secure her release, her husband said on Wednesday. Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson meets with Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe who is detained in Iran, at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London, Britain, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/PoolNazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted by an Iranian court of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment. She denies the charges. Johnson came under pressure to resign after comments he made earlier this month that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been teaching people journalism before her arrest in April 2016. Critics said the comments might have prompted Iran to extend her sentence and he apologised for his remarks on Monday. The Thomson Reuters Foundation, a charity organisation that is independent of Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News, said Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been on holiday and had not been teaching journalism in Iran. On Wednesday, Johnson met her husband Richard Ratcliffe and told him Britain would leave no stone unturned in its bid to free her, saying the British ambassador in Tehran had earlier raised her case again with the Iranian authorities. Johnson also stressed the importance of an appeal on humanitarian grounds, Ratcliffe told reporters, saying it had been a positive meeting. Richard Ratcliffe, husband of Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, who is detained in Iran, arrives for a meeting with Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at the Foreign Office in London, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Toby MelvilleBut officials had questioned whether it would help to grant his wife diplomatic protection - a move that would explicitly make Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s fate an issue in state-to-state relations rather than a purely consular case. A legal opinion prepared for the human rights charity Redress on Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case said the British government could grant her diplomatic protection as she is “predominantly” a British citizen who has been denied a fair trial. Iranian-British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is seen with her husband Richard Ratcliffe and her daughter Gabriella in an undated photograph handed out by her family. Ratcliffe Family Handout via REUTERS“I said I thought it would be important and helpful ... the foreign secretary and the Foreign Office expressed reservations,” Ratcliffe said. The Foreign Office said lawyers would meet in the next fortnight to discuss the issue further. Ratcliffe said Johnson was “keen” to take him on a trip to Iran planned before the end of the year, which could allow him to see his wife and three-year-old daughter who is being cared for by relatives in Iran, for the first time in 19 months. “For me it’s very important to be going on that trip, to be standing alongside the foreign secretary and I understand that’s a big ask, it’s reasonably unprecedented but I think it’s important in our circumstances,” he said. Ratcliffe, who said his wife appeared to be on the edge of a nervous breakdown and was due to have further tests after finding lumps on her breasts, said he thought she was being used as a diplomatic bargaining chip. “There are fights that are nothing to do with us ... we’re being used as a vehicle for those fights,” he said.
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Updated Date: Nov 15, 2017 22:31 PM