Iran: UK diplomatic protection for prisoner legally invalid

March 8, 2019

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A top Iranian diplomat asserted on Friday that the U.K.’s decision to give diplomatic protection to a British-Iranian woman detained in Iran for nearly three years contravenes international law.

British officials have said Iran has failed to meet its international obligations in its treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The Iranian ambassador to Britain, Hamid Baeidinejad, said in a tweet Friday: “UK Govt’s extension of diplomatic protection to Ms Zaghari contravenes int’l law. Govts may only exercise such protection for own nationals. As UK Govt is acutely aware, Iran does not recognize dual nationality. Irrespective of UK residency, Ms Zaghari thus remains Iranian.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested in April 2016 while traveling with her toddler daughter in Iran. Her five-year prison sentence for plotting the “soft toppling” of its government has been widely criticized.

In response to the granting of diplomatic protection to Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency, issued a statement Friday welcoming the British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s action: “This is an important step that has not been used in the UK in 150 years.”

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

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