The Foreign Office said British nationals arrested overseas through no fault of their own have no right to the Government’s help or protection, even if they’re tortured or held as diplomatic leverage against their country.
That stark judgment was given in a letter to lawyers for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who asked the department to lay out the Government’s view of its responsibility towards her.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British Iranian mother of one child, was apprehended at Tehran airport in 2016 and condemned to five years on trumped-up charges of sowing dissent against the Iranian government.
A second case, that Iran has aimed to justify with erroneous statements made by Boris Johnson, was presented against her in October.
In a letter to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s lawyers, the Government said it was under no legal obligation to assist citizens who were falsely charged with a crime while travelling with a British passport.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 41, a charity worker with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was apprehended in April 2016 at Tehran airport as she was returning home to London with her then 22-month-old daughter, Gabriella, following a family visit in 2016.
The British Iranian dual national was imprisoned for five years on allegations that she conspired to destroy the Iranian government.
She’s always repudiated the claims, and is presently under house arrest in Tehran, after being freed from jail earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter seen by a news outlet, the head of consular affairs at the Foreign Office, Sarah Broughton, explained that the Government had no responsibility to protect British Citizens who’d been arrested overseas through no fault of their own.
Responding to the letter Ms Zaghgari’s Radcliffe’s lawyers wrote: ‘If it is the government’s position that it has no obligations even in the extreme and unique circumstances of Nazanin’s case, then that sends an extremely alarming message to the rest of the British public.’
In 2019, former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt granted diplomatic protection for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe in response to Iran’s treatment of her, but despite the move, Sarah Broughton said the decision to summon the seldom-used diplomatic device didn’t confer any clear legal obligations upon them.
And she added that the Government couldn’t investigate torture or mistreatment allegations and didn’t recognise her arrest as hostage-taking.
So, do these laws no longer exist to safeguard the interests of the British people at home and abroad? And I hazard a guess that if you were Eton educated or related to Lord or Lady whoever, or a Tory contributor the case would be much different.
This woman allegedly didn’t do anything, yet she’s being kept as a political prisoner, but it seems that dual nationals are fair game, although this case is especially sad.
This is all about dual nationality and the significance of having it within the jurisdiction of those countries, but times have changed because it used to be taken for granted that if a British Citizen abroad got into trouble, the Foreign Office would usually help.
But now we have Brexit and our Government, particularly Boris Johnson only wants to negotiate with our own, or should I say his own – welcome to Brexit, although last time I checked, Europe was nowhere near Iran, so it just goes to show that Boris Johnson doesn’t want to trade with anyone or anything unless it concerns his Schmekel.
And perhaps when our own Prime Minister has had a hand in keeping someone overseas and locked up, he really should help, but then this is another Boris moment of stupidity that destroys lives.