Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe granted 'diplomatic protection'

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe granted 'diplomatic protection'”

Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran's ambassador to Britain, said in a tweet Friday that the British government's move violates global law.

It is an official recognition by the British government that Iran had not met its obligations under global rules in regard to her treatment and makes it a formal matter between the states.

Mr Hunt said he had made a decision to invoke the rarely used diplomatic device in recognition of Iran's failure to meet its obligations under worldwide law in its treatment of the 41-year-old.

He said governments can only extend such protection to their own nationals and that Iran does not recognize dual nationality.

Iran refuses to recognise dual nationals so does not recognise Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's right to be represented by Britain.

The British government's move comes almost three years after she was arrested at Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport with her young daughter while boarding a flight back to the United Kingdom after a family visit in Iran.

Britain said on Friday it was sending Iran a "very strong message" by extending diplomatic protection to a British-Iranian mother jailed in Tehran in a move that was immediately branded by the Islamic republic as a violation of global law.

"We renew our plea for the Iranian authorities to release Nazanin as soon as possible", the statement added.

Media captionWhy one mother's personal plight is part of a complicated history between Iran and the UK Analysis: What happens next?

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It is a crushing blow for the case to free Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who spent her 40th birthday in prison on Boxing Day yet, perhaps not unexpected to those familiar with the stor.

Earlier this year, Zaghari-Ratcliffe went on hunger strike in protest at her treatment in jail. The UK government, Thomson Reuters Foundation and Zaghari-Ratcliffe have denied the allegations.

He said the move might improve consular access to Zaghari-Ratcliffe as Britain's ambassador in Tehran has not been able to see her, and could also improve her access to medical care. "No government should use innocent individuals as pawns for diplomatic leverage so I call on Iran to release this innocent woman so she can be reunited with her family".

The development means the case will now be treated as a formal, legal dispute between Britain and Iran.

He said she had refused to cooperate and had since been feeling "very low".

Mr Hunt said his decision was "an important diplomatic step" signalling to Tehran that "its behaviour is totally wrong".

She was later sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly plotting against the Iranian government. Her husband Richard said on Friday she was still suffering from "neurological problems".

She was arrested while on holiday with daughter Gabriella in April 2016, she was visiting her parents.

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