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Iranian-Briton To Get Diplomatic Protection

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Receives Protection British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe will be given diplomatic protection by Britain, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt reports. It means the case will now be treated as...

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Receives Protection

British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe will be given diplomatic protection by Britain, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt reports. It means the case will now be treated as a formal, legal dispute between the two states involved – Britain and Iran.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed for five years in Iran in 2016 after being convicted of spying, which she denies. Hunt said the move was unlikely to be a “magic wand” to get her released but was an “important diplomatic step”.

He said it “demonstrates to the whole world that Nazanin is innocent” and signaled to Iran “that its behavior is totally wrong.” The Iranian ambassador to London said the decision “contravenes international law.”

Iran refuses to recognize dual nationals so does not recognize Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s right to be represented by Britain. Diplomatic protection is a rare legal procedure in international law.

States can use it to help one of their nationals whose rights have been breached in another country. It is very different to diplomatic immunity, which is something given to diplomats to ensure their safe passage and protection from prosecution.

According to the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent James Landale, her new legal status will not force Iran to change the way it treats her. But it will allow Britain to raise her case with greater ease at international forums such as the United Nations.

Addressing the Republic, Hunt said: “You may have disagreements with the UK, but at the heart of this is an innocent woman, vulnerable, unwell and scared. She should not be paying the price for whatever disagreements you have with the UK.”

Asked if he was prepared to take Iran to the international court, sanction it, or summon its ambassador, Hunt said “all these things are possible, but we would like to solve this in an amicable way.”

He added that diplomatic protection had not been granted to a British citizen in 100 years. “It’s difficult to know exactly what the impact will be. But we do want the world to know the UK will not stand by while its citizens are unjustly treated.”

Asked about Iran’s allegation that the UK had broken international law, Hunt said he “would expect some sort of negative reaction” from the country.

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