BORIS JOHNSON is on his way to Iran this weekend in a bid to secure the release of jailed British-Iranian mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe following pressure from campaigners.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe is serving a five-year sentence for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Tehran government. She denies the charges.
In 2016, she was arrested in Tehran while visiting her parents with her baby daughter Gabriella.
Reports have suggested she could appear in court again on Sunday, relating to a second set of charges which could see her sentenced increased by five years.
The charges follow Mr Johnson’s gaffe last month, when he told a parliamentary committee that she had been in Iran “training journalists.”
Although the Foreign Secretary denied his error related to the charges, Iranian state television used his claim as justification for imprisoning her.
Tehran does not recognise her dual British-Iranian citizenship and refuses to give British consular officials access to her, making a prison visit for Mr Johnson unlikely.
Hers is one of a small number of cases of dual nationals whose release Britain is seeking on humanitarian grounds.
The Foreign Office has declined to name the other individuals involved, or even identify the number of them in jail, after their families asked for their cases to remain anonymous.
Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen, who has campaigned for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release, said: “We’re cautiously hopeful that this could be the light at the end of the tunnel.
“As we’ve been saying over and over, she is a charity worker who’s been sentenced to five years after enduring solitary confinement and a deeply unfair trial.
“We fervently hope the Foreign Secretary’s visit can secure her speedy release but, if it doesn’t, we’ll go on campaigning.
“This is a gross injustice and it must be set right.”
Iran is also likely to raise the £400 million compensation it’s owed for the non-delivery of tanks ordered by the pre-revolutionary regime in 1979. The cash has already been deposited with a court for payment.
The Foreign Office has always stressed that the payment of the money is not linked to the cases of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other imprisoned dual nationals.
However, a prisoner exchange in January 2016 that freed four US-Iranians also saw the US pay Iran $400m the same day for undelivered military equipment.
Some US politicians have criticised it as a ransom payment.