Boris Johnson 'set to visit Iran to negotiate release of a British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe'

Chloe Chaplain
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and daughter Gabriella: AFP

Boris Johnson is set to visit Iran this weekend in a bid to secure the release of a British mother who has been jailed there for nearly two years, according to reports.

The Foreign Secretary is planning to make his first visit Tehran to negotiate the freedom of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested at the airport in 2016.

The trip would be the third by a UK Foreign Secretary since 2003 and comes at a time of tension in the Middle East over Donald Trump's announcement that he is recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The dual Iranian-British citizen, who lives in north London, is serving a five-year sentence over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Tehran government.

Negotiations: Boris met with Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

She was arrested during a holiday visit to show her baby daughter Gabriella, now two, to her parents.

The 38-year-old is facing a further court appearance this month, following threats to increase her sentence by five years as a result of a gaffe by Mr Johnson.

Mr Johnson wrongly told a parliamentary committee that she had been in Iran to train journalists and was criticised for potentially increasing her sentence.He later acknowledged that this was not the case.

Details of the trip, which has not been confirmed by the Foreign Officer, were reported in the Guardian which said Mr Johnson would be meeting with senior Iranian officials.

Amnesty International UK’s Director, Kate Allen, said: “We’re cautiously hopeful that this could be the light at the end of the tunnel for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

“As we’ve been saying over and over, Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a charity worker who’s been jailed for five years after enduring solitary confinement and a deeply unfair trial.

Three-year-old Gabriella Ratcliffe has been living with her grandparents ever since

“The Iranian authorities have a record of toying with the fate of prisoners being held for ‘political’ reasons, so it’s still very hard to feel confident that her release is imminent.

“We fervently hope the Foreign Secretary’s visit can secure her speedy release, but if it doesn’t we’ll go on campaigning. This is a gross injustice and it must be set right.”