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U.K. Foreign Secretary Speaks To Husband Of British Woman Jailed In Iran


Iranian-British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (left) poses with her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, and her daughter, Gabriella.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has held spoken to the husband of a British woman imprisoned in Iran amid growing pressure on the British government to push for her release.

The Foreign Office said that Johnson and Richard Ratcliffe spoke by phone without elaborating further.

A Foreign Office source told Reuters that the phone call was "very constructive."

Ratcliffe has previously urged Johnson to travel to Tehran to press for the release of his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian citizen, is serving a five-year sentence after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran's clerical establishment.

The charges have been repeatedly denied by her family and her employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Earlier this month, Johnson told lawmakers that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was "teaching people journalism" when she was detained last year.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation, a charity organization, said Johnson's comment was incorrect.

"She is not a journalist and has never trained journalists at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, where she is project manager in my Media Development team," Monique Villa, the charity’s chief executive, said.

Villa said Johnson's "serious mistake...can only worsen her sentence."

The foundation and Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family say she was on vacation when she went to Iran, taking her toddler daughter to meet her grandparents for the first time.

Meanwhile, opposition British lawmakers said Johnson's remarks could land the aid worker a longer term in jail.

Johnson later apologized for his comment, but Iran's state-controlled television seized on his remarks and claimed it was an implicit admission of guilt.

Johnson's comment has triggered calls for his resignation.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said Prime Minister Theresa May should fire Johnson for "embarrassing and undermining our country with his incompetence and colonial throwback views and putting our citizens at risk."

His allies have defended him.

"Why would you want to sack him? He's a good foreign secretary," Brexit Minister David Davis told Sky News.

Johnson said earlier this month that he will travel to Iran in the coming weeks and discuss all consular issues there.

He said that he would seek to meet Zaghari-Ratcliffe during his planned trip.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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