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Britain to grant jailed UK-Iranian mother 'diplomatic protection'

10 March 2019

Affording diplomatic protection in Nazanin's case represents formal recognition by the British Government that her treatment fails to meet Iran's obligations under worldwide law and elevates it to a formal State to State issue.

"This represents formal recognition by the British Government that her treatment fails to meet Iran's obligations under global law and elevates it to a formal state-to-state issue", he said.

She was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran's clerical establishment, a charge denied by her family and the Foundation, a charity organisation that operates independently of Thomson Reuters and Reuters News.

Hunt added, however, that it was "unlikely to be a magic wand that leads to an overnight result", and he reiterated calls for Tehran to immediately set her free.

Diplomatic protection is a rarely-used mechanism allowing nations to seek protection on behalf of its citizens on the grounds that they have been wronged by another state.

"I have considered the unacceptable treatment Nazanin has received over three years, including not just lack of access to medical treatment but also lack of due process in the proceedings brought against her", he said.

Given the seriousness of Nazanin's situation, the United Kingdom government's decision to grant her diplomatic protection is a reasonable step up in its strategy on her case.

"UK Govt's extension of diplomatic protection to Ms Zaghari contravenes int'l law", Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran's ambassador to the UK tweeted this morning. As UK Govt is acutely aware, Iran does not recognize dual nationality.

Affording Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protection, a step advocated by campaign group Redress and her husband Richard for almost two years, also means that from now on, an injury to her is viewed as an injury to the British state.

It means Britain no longer regards her case as simply a consular matter and raises it to the level of a legal dispute between Britain and Iran. It is something that Nazanin's family and her legal team, including REDRESS, have been requesting since November 2017.

A photo of Zaghari-Ratcliffe is seen amongst candles during a fourth birthday vigil for her daughter Gabriella opposite the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on June 11, 2018. Nazanin is a British-Iranian mother who has been unlawfully imprisoned in Iran since April 2016.

He added: "Iran was an ancient civilisation, but no government should use innocent individuals as pawns for diplomatic leverage".

"She was taken for an initial assessment to a doctor, who said she was surprised she was in prison given the health condition she was in".

She maintains her innocence, and says she was on holiday in Iran taking her daughter Gabriella to visit her parents.

Britain to grant jailed UK-Iranian mother 'diplomatic protection'