Richard Ratcliffe has warned the government there are ‘lessons to be learned’ from his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s six-year captivity in Iran after she and her family met Boris Johnson this afternoon.
Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was released in March after the UK agreed to settle a £400m debt with Tehran dating back to 1979, was accompanied to the Downing Street meeting by her husband Richard and their daughter Gabriella.
Other Foreign Office officials were also present at the meeting, which was the first Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has had with the Prime Minister since returning to the UK.
Speaking in Downing Street after the meeting, Mr Ratcliffe told broadcasters: “Two years ago I was standing here after seeing the Prime Minister and walked out quite desperate, in the sense that we had to fight Longer.
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“I stand here now with the battle over for us.
“I think there are lessons to be learned, there is a bigger problem.
“We talked about the mistakes made at the end. It was difficult at the end, and I think when Nazanin is ready to talk about it, it’s something we have to go through.
“But no, I think, it’s not like when it’s over that you feel angry. Relief is what I honestly feel.”
Mr Ratcliffe added: ‘I don’t think it was an abrasive meeting.’
Labour’s Tulip Siddiq, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s constituency MP, also attended the meeting with the family.
Speaking afterwards, Ms Siddiq said Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had told Mr Johnson she felt ‘guilty’ for being back in Britain while others remained on ‘the same terms’ she had been through” in Iranian prisons.
“We talked about Morad Tahbaz and also talked about the case of a death row inmate who comes from Sweden, because the Prime Minister has just returned from Sweden, and we said to keep the pressure on,” the Labor MP said. . mentioned.
“Nazanin kept saying that people who came in quite early when she came in, they’re not home yet and she’s home and she feels very guilty about it.
“She wants them back too and she can’t sit here and enjoy her life knowing that there are people going through the same conditions that she went through.
“And she talked a bit about what she went through when she was in prison and it was kind of hard to hear actually.
“It’s not like I don’t know the details, but hearing it again the way she explained it was pretty hard to hear.”
Ms Siddiq added that the Prime Minister looked ‘quite shocked’ when Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe told him she had lived in ‘the shadow of his words’ for ‘the best part of four and a half years’.
Ahead of the meeting, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “We have already said that the Prime Minister is willing to meet with both Nazanin and Mr. (Anoosheh) Ashoori.
“It’s something we tried to arrange. I planned that he would meet her in Downing Street to discuss her ordeal in Iran.”
The manager said the reunion was “something we worked on together to make it happen.”
In 2017, Mr Johnson mistakenly informed MPs that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had ‘taught people journalism’ before she was detained by Iranian authorities.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family and her employer both argued that Mr Johnson’s comments were untrue.
Asked if the Prime Minister would apologize to Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the spokesperson said: “I think it’s important to remember that it was the Iranian government that was responsible for her unjust detention, and the decision to release her was still in their gift.
“However, I would like to recall the Prime Minister’s words, his responses to questions on this before and he already apologized for his comments in 2017.”
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe criticized the Foreign Office’s failure to secure her release sooner.
In a press conference in March after returning to the UK, which saw her reunited with husband Richard and daughter Gabriella, the former hostage said ‘what happened now should have happened six years ago’.
She said: “I’ve been told many, many times that ‘oh we’re going to take you home’. It never happened.
“How many foreign secretaries does it take to bring someone home? What happened now should have happened six years ago.”
She added that “the sense of freedom will never be complete” until Morad Tahbaz and other dual nationals detained in Iran be released.
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeremy Hunt defended Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe after being criticized as “ungrateful” following her release.
Last month, Foreign Affairs Committee chairman and Tory MP Tom Tugendhat said Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was ‘right to demand answers’ as he launched a select committee inquiry into the government’s handling of her six-year hostage situation in Iran.
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