United Kingdom gives British-Iranian national diplomatic protection

United Kingdom gives British-Iranian national diplomatic protection

Zaghari's plight - the insurmountable injustice of it all - has been the centre of political and national conversation for just as long.

"Now it's also the British government's case and all the injustices that happen to Nazanin are effectively injustices to the British government". And will it make any tangible difference?

But Iran's ambassador was dismissive.

He said governments can only extend such protection to their own nationals and that Iran does not recognize dual nationality. The UK Foreign Secretary has recognised that there may be a backlash from Iran in the immediate term.

Her four-year-old daughter remains with Zaghari-Ratcliffe's mother in Tehran. Over the last three years, several efforts to release her from where she is held in a Tehran prison have failed, with the Iranian government insisting that she is a "spy".

A project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the media group's philanthropic arm, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 as she was leaving Iran at the end of a holiday with her infant daughter.

"It sends a very strong message to Iran: You are a great civilisation, you may have disagreements with the United Kingdom, but at the heart of this is an innocent woman, vulnerable, unwell and scared", Hunt said.

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The U.K. government has made a decision to provide diplomatic protection to a British-Iranian woman detained in Iran for almost three years.

Her husband Richard who has been lobbying Hunt and the previous foreign secretary Boris Johnson for diplomatic protection for his wife since 2017, welcomed the move. The UK government, Thomson Reuters Foundation and Zaghari-Ratcliffe have denied the allegations. All of these things have been to no avail.

Mr Hunt said he had taken into account Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's "unacceptable treatment" by Iran since she was detained, including the denial of medical treatment and the lack of due process in the proceedings against her. It is something that Nazanin's family and her legal team, including REDRESS, have been requesting since November 2017.

For the family, it is bleak and filled with heartbreak.

Mr Hunt said the move was unlikely to be a "magic wand" to get her released, but was an "important diplomatic step".

The practical implication of such an elevation depends largely on how the FCO chooses to respond, but it could mean the case is raised on the worldwide stage and in extremis, could lead to sanctions, and requests for reparations on the basis that Britain is the victim of an unlawful act.

While perhaps it isn't the most practically useful order, it does send a strong message, which shouldn't be underestimated. But it will allow Britain to raise her case with greater ease at global forums such as the United Nations. It is by no means a quick fix.

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