World News

Boris Johnson under renewed fire over Iran comments

Boris Johnson under renewed fire over Iran comments

The country's state TV broadcaster claimed the Foreign Secretary's suggestion that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was "training journalists" in Iran at the time of her arrest amounted to an "unintended admission" of her guilt. He will meet Richard Ratcliffe, Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband on Wednesday.

During a House of Commons grilling, Mr Johnson told MPs: "The British Government has no doubt Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran on holiday and that was the sole goal of her visit".

The foreign secretary has admitted he "could have been clearer" with his comments and insisted they had been taken out of context.

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".

Environment Secretary Michael Gove came under fire after appearing to cast doubt over her actions in the run up to her arrest.

Both the Iranian judiciary and media have used the Foreign Secretary's words as justification for her imprisonment, leading to calls for Mr Johnson to resign.

"We make a big mistake if we think the right thing to do is to blame politicians in a democracy who are trying to do the right thing for the plight of a woman who is being imprisoned by a regime that is a serial abuser of human rights", he said.

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Mr Gove, a one-time ally and friend of the Foreign Secretary, tried to shift attention away from the handling of the case, claiming there was an "effort" to blame Mr Johnson.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was hauled back in front of an Iranian court after Johnson's remarks and now faces 10 years in prison for additional charges.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett accused Gove of protecting Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is facing mounting pressure to leave office after he made some damaging remarks on Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Asked on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show if he knew why Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran, Mr Gove said: "I don't know". "No evidence has been produced which suggests she should be detained".

Boris Johnson has apologised to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe for the "further anguish" caused by his error over her detention in Iran.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran's capital since April a year ago, when she was arrested at Tehran airport as she attempted to return home together with her young daughter, Gabriella. "It has always been clear, she was on holiday visiting her family", he said.

"The fault, of course, is with the Iranians, but the primary duty of all government is to protect its citizens and keep us safe, especially your Foreign Secretary".


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