Boris Johnson calls for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's permanent release after ankle tag removed

Video report by ITV News Reporter Martha Fairlie

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Iran to release Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe “permanently.” British-Iranian woman Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran for nearly five years and is "genuinely happy" after having her ankle tag removed.

But she must still appear before an Iranian court in a week’s time - and Mr Johnson has called for a quicker resolution.

He tweeted: “Pleased to see the removal of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle tag, but her continued confinement remains totally unacceptable.

"She 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.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has completed a near five-year sentence in the Islamic Republic over allegations of plotting to overthrow its government – charges which she vehemently denies.She has had her ankle tag removed on Sunday.

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said that “it’s a mixed day for us” and “Nazanin is genuinely happy” to be free of her electronic bracelet.

Richard Ratcliffe believes his wife 'remains in harm's way'.

He said: “I’m a bit more guarded. It feels to me like they have made one blockage just as they have removed another, and we very clearly remain in the middle of this government game of chess.”

Mr Ratcliffe added: “She is having a nice afternoon, has turned her phone off and is not thinking about the rest of it.

“But she remains in harm’s way, even if today she is determined not to feel it.”

The 42-year-old’s family had been waiting to hear news of her fate as Sunday marked the end of her sentence.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be allowed to return to the UK.

In a statement he said: “We welcome the removal of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle tag, but Iran continues to put her and her family through a cruel and an intolerable ordeal.

“She must be released permanently so she can return to her family in the UK. We will continue to do all we can to achieve this.

“We have relayed to the Iranian authorities in the strongest possible terms that her continued confinement is unacceptable.”

Mr Zaghari-Ratcliffe said he was “grateful” for the “strong words” of the foreign secretary.

Jeremy Hunt, foreign secretary between July 2018 and July 2019, said on Twitter: "Beyond cruel to toy with an innocent mother & six year old child in this way."

He tagged the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif saying: "Let her come home."

The British-Iranian has had her ankle tag removed.

Kate Allen, director at Amnesty International UK, said: “This is such bittersweet news.

“After all Nazanin’s been through this feels like yet another example of the calculated cruelty of the Iranian authorities.

“The Iranian authorities have an appalling record of playing cruel games – not just with Nazanin, but also with other UK nationals and numerous people held in the country on politically-motivated grounds.

“Nazanin was convicted after a deeply unfair trial the first time around and this spurious new charge and possible trial is clearly designed to delay her release and exert yet more pressure on Nazanin and her family.

“This won’t be over until Nazanin has her passport and is on a flight heading home to the UK.

“The UK Government must not take this lying down. All the past talk of not leaving any stone unturned to secure Nazanin’s release must now be translated into very serious diplomatic action.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, of north London, was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport while taking her young daughter Gabriella to see her parents in April 2016.

The charity worker, who was employed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the time of her arrest, strongly denies the charges and rights groups say she was jailed with no evidence and her trial was unfair.