Diplomatic protection for jailed Iran mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Iran rejects UK claim of diplomatic status for Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Iran rejects UK claim of diplomatic status for Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Britain will give diplomatic protection to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran since 2016, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Thursday.

It means the case will now be treated as a formal, legal dispute between the two states involved - Britain and Iran.

She was sentenced to five years for allegedly trying to topple the Iranian government.

Mr Hunt said the move was unlikely to be a "magic wand" to get her released, but was an "important diplomatic step". As UK Govt is acutely aware, Iran does not recognise dual nationality.

It is not the same as diplomatic immunity, which is something given to diplomats to ensure their safe passage and protection from prosecution.

"It changes the status for Nazanin's case", Ratcliffe told BBC radio. Not only this, but it gives Britain more power take worldwide legal action (though Hunt indicated that this was unlikely) and also to address the maltreatment of Zaghari-Ratcliffe in other global powerhouses like the United Nations.

He added that diplomatic protection had not been granted to a British citizen in 100 years.

It is hard to know how Iran will react to the use of diplomatic protection. Just a year ago the United States imposed economic sanctions on Turkey in response to the detention of a U.S. citizen, Andrew Brunson.

'The Iranian government could still refuse a visit but under worldwide law that process could be escalated'.

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Iran is one of the oldest civilisations in the world.

The Iranian regime will now face increasing worldwide pressure as it upgrades the issue from a consulate issue to a state-on-state issue.

"Affording diplomatic protection in Nazanin's case 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", the Foreign Office said in a statement.

"Diplomatic protection" differs in global law from "diplomatic immunity", which applies to government officials, but it converts the matter to a state-to-state issue from the level of normal consular assistance.

Mr Hunt responded: "Well, I would expect some kind of negative reaction from Iran".

"Now it's also the British government's case and all the injustices that happen to Nazanin are effectively injustices to the British government". Her psychological state is now perilous, and she is suffering from significant neurological and other physical health issues.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt invoked the rarely-used diplomatic device in response to Iran's treatment of the dual national, who has been held since 2016 on spying charges.

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.

The move elevates the Nazanin case from a consular issue to a formal matter between Iran and the United Kingdom and also opens up a number of legal and diplomatic routes.

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