Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Gove under fire for comments


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Michael Gove has come less than fire for saying he didn’t know what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing in Iran when she was caught in 2016.

Mr Gove told Andrew Marr he would “take her husband’s brazenness” that the British-Iranian citizen was on holiday.

He was defending the foreign secretary, whose own remarks have caused concern that her sentence could be extended.

Workers said he “was more interested in protecting (Boris) Johnson’s job” than Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s exemption.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said Mr Gove had “compounded” Mr Johnson’s “cavalier advance to international diplomacy”.

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Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran airport with her 18-month-old daughter in April 2016, one of certain Iranians with dual nationality to be detained over a period of months.

She was accused of maddening to overthrow the Iranian regime – charges she has always denied – and sentenced to five years’ detention.

She says she was on holiday in Iran so relatives could meet her young daughter.

The blocks were seen as part of an attempt by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to sap President Hassan Rouhani and the process of thawing relations with the West.

Latest week UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was criticised for suggesting she had been training newsreaders on the trip – causing concern it could cause her sentence to be lengthened.

Mr Johnson has since disclosed the government has “no doubt” she was on holiday “and that was the sole purpose of her visit”.

‘Big confuse with’

Asked on Sunday by Mr Marr what she had been doing in Iran, Mr Gove replied: “I don’t conscious” adding there was “no reason Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe should be in prison in Iran so far as any of us recognize”.

He went on to say her husband was the person who would know and he would take his word that she was on holiday.

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He symbolized: “We make a big mistake if we think the right thing to do is to blame politicians in a democracy who are troublesome to do the right thing for the plight of a woman who is being imprisoned by a regime that is a serial abuser of someone rights.”

“Who is in the dock here? Iran. It should be the actions of their judiciary and the different guards.”

He added the UK should not “play their game”.

‘Undermining our state’

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have in the offing both called for Mr Johnson to resign for putting Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe at risk.

Mr Corbyn blabbed the Observer Mr Johnson should be sacked as foreign secretary for “undermining our mother country” and “putting our citizens at risk”.

And Labour’s Tulip Siddiq, who is Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s MP, recounted the BBC that she had repeatedly raised the details of the case in Parliament

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“For Michael Gove to go on TV today and say he wasn’t sure … he should separate that Nazanin was on holiday and in compounding the lie that was told about courting journalists, he is only going to make life worse for my constituent.”

It is arranged that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard spoke to the foreign secretary on Sunday. Mr Ratcliffe know for sured the BBC he hoped he might be able to travel to Iran with Mr Johnson to forgather his wife and see his daughter, who he has not seen in person since the arrest.

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