Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe saga 'failure' of British diplomacy, husband fears

6 March 2021, 12:25 | Updated: 7 March 2021, 09:11

By Seán Hickey

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe insists the Government must push harder against Iran to guarantee her release.

Richard Ratcliffe told Andrew Castle that his wife is "very stressed" as the end of her five year detention in Iran nears. She fears Iranian authorities will "find some new reason" to detain her when her current sentence runs out on Sunday.

"That fear is just there the whole time," Mr Ratcliffe told Andrew.

He explained that the nearer the date for Ms Zaghari Ratcliffe's release came, "we've gone from being optimistic to more and more uncertain."

Andrew wondered how much contact Mr Ratcliffe had with the Foreign Secretary while his wife is held under espionage charges which she has consistently denied.

Read More: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe told to 'pack bag for prison' ahead of fresh court case

Mr Ratcliffe revealed that he spoke to Dominic Raab a matter of days ago and although he has "no doubt" of the Foreign Secretary's concern, he questions the UK's strategy in advocating for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release.

"After five years I've got a number of doubts on whether what they're doing is working," he said, stressing that a soft approach has proved ineffective so far.

"You need to be tougher," Mr Ratcliffe insisted.

"This is hostage taking. They're taking her for leverage. You've got to be clear that that's not acceptable."

Andrew wondered if Mr Ratcliffe saw the fiasco as a "failure of British diplomacy."

"It's certainly been a failure from our perspective," Mr Ratcliffe responded. He accepted however, that the process is a long one requiring great care.

"It's not over yet," he insisted.