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Theresa May tells Iran: Nazanin must be released

Nazanin was realeased from prison for a weekend in August Photo: PA

Theresa May will make a personal plea for the released of a jailed charity worker in Tehran during talks with Iran's president.

The Prime Minister has raised "serious concerns" about the detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and will urge Hassan Rouhani to free her on humanitarian grounds.

The British-Iranian mother, whose family is from Hampshire, has been imprisoned for more than two years for spying - a charge she vehemently denies.

Mrs May will meet with Mr Rouhani for talks in New York at the United Nations General Assembly.

"The PM will express serious concern at Nazanin's ongoing detention and call for her to be released upon humanitarian grounds."

– Senior Government official

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was detained at Imam Khomeini airport in April 2016.

Last month she was granted a three-day release from Evin prison but her request for an extension was denied and she was forced to say goodbye to her four-year-old daughter, Gabriella, and return to jail.

Husband Richard Ratcliffe wrote an open letter to Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif calling the short release a "cruel game".

Jeremy Hunt pledged to do everything possible to secure Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release after he became Foreign Secretary.

It followed criticism of predecessor Boris Johnson's handling of attempts to free the mother-of-one.

Credit: PA

"This is a step in the right direction, and we welcome the news that the Prime Minister will personally address Nazanin's plight tomorrow.

"Nazanin's detention has gone on far too long, and it's time for her full and unconditional release.

"Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a prisoner of conscience who should never have been jailed in the first place. She should be freed once and for all and allowed to travel back to the UK to be with her young daughter Gabriella."

– Director of Amnesty International, Kate Allen

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's constituency MP Tulip Siddiq welcomed Theresa May's expected intervention.