Thank you to the constituents who emailed me regarding Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and the ongoing campaign for her release from prison in Iran. This is an incredibly important matter and I sincerely appreciate everyone taking the time to inform me of their concerns.
I can assure you that both myself and the wider SNP group share these concerns. Indeed, this is an issue the SNP has been raising for some time and our view on the matter is clear – the UK government’s failure over the past four and a half years to secure Nazanin’s freedom is disgraceful.
We are looking for actions, not warm words; SNP MPs in Westminster have grown tired of hearing ministers saying they're 'doing all they can' for Nazanin and the other arbitrarily detained Britons in Iran. In September of this year, the new Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss MP met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian in New York. Despite assurances of progress, nothing has changed at all since that meeting, in fact things have got a lot worse.
As I’m sure you will be aware, Nazanin’s husband, Mr Richard Ratcliffe, recently ended his astonishing 21 day hunger strike outside Downing Street. The SNP were proud to support Richard during this campaign, but it is heartbreaking that such a protest is needed to raise awareness of this ongoing horror – and even more damning is the Prime Minister’s lack of response to the matter.
Despite recent debates in Westminster Hall on the situation, which my colleague Patrick Grady MP attended to reiterate the SNP’s firm support of the Ratcliffes, it appears the Prime Minister and UK Government are content to stay the current course despite the outcry and significant cross-party opposition to their inaction.
Given his political and diplomatic failings from his time as Foreign Secretary, the Prime Minister has a special responsibility to support efforts to see Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe released from prison. It should not be forgotten that Boris Johnson had wrongfully briefed the House of Commons, saying Nazanin was training journalists when she was in fact on holiday visiting family, and these remarks were used in the unfair trial that saw her convicted and put in prison. For the Prime Minister to now do nothing to remedy his failings is unacceptable, but unfortunately unsurprising given his track record in office.
I can assure you that SNP MPs in Westminster will continue to press Boris Johnson and the Foreign Secretary to do much more to help Nazanin’s release. That said, we believe the fact that Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and other ministers did not even bother to take the time to come out of their offices to visit Richard at his tent, and see first-hand how desperate the situation has become, is a sign of their blatant disregard for this issue.
Nevertheless, it is clear that a proactive approach is needed by this government. The FCDO must now once and for all set out evidence of detailed and concrete steps to get her home. In the meantime, you can keep up to date with Richard’s campaign and all other information regarding Nazanin’s case via the link below:
Thanks again to everyone who got in touch to raise this matter. I hope the above proves somewhat useful and makes clear both my own, and the wider SNP group’s, view on this issue.