An Iranian official on Monday accused Britain’s former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt of prolonging the release of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe by “years” through what he called “destructive actions.”
Iran released Zaghari-Ratcliffe at the end of her five-year prison sentence, but she has been summoned to court again on another charge, her lawyer said on Sunday.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at a Tehran airport in April 2016 as she was about to leave Iran after visiting family in the country. She was later convicted of plotting to overthrow the regime in Tehran – charges which she denies.
“Jeremy Hunt’s hypocritical remarks do not cover up his destructive actions from a few years ago... and he knows that if his destructive actions had not taken place,” Zaghari-Ratcliffe would have been freed “a few years ago,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh alleged on Monday.
Khatibzadeh did not elaborate any further. His remarks came after Hunt called Iran’s treatment of Zaghari-Ratcliffe “beyond cruel” and urged the country’s authorities to allow her to return to Britain.
“Beyond cruel to toy with an innocent mother & six year old child in this way. @JZarif she has served five years: let her come home,” Hunt said in a tweet on Sunday.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe “must be released permanently so she can return to her family in the UK, and we continue to do all we can to achieve this,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said following news of her release.
Several dual and foreign nationals are currently under arrest in Iran.
Regime critics accuse Tehran of arresting foreign nationals on trumped-up charges and using them as hostages in an effort to win concessions from other countries.