The UK will exercise diplomatic protection for a British-Iranian mother detained in Tehran as part of the Government’s continuing efforts to secure her release.
Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, made the decision on Thursday, which means Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case represents formal recognition by the British Government that her treatment fails to meet Iran’s obligations under International law - and elevates it to a formal State to State issue.
A Foreign Office press release said: "Diplomatic protection is a rarely-used mechanism through which a state can seek protection on behalf of one of its nationals if it believes they have been wronged by another state."
Jeremy Hunt said that Nazanin is an innocent woman and they have been working hard to secure her release but despite repeated efforts have not been successful. "We have not even been able to secure her the medical treatment she urgently needs despite assurances to the contrary.
“So I have today decided that the UK will take a step that is extremely unusual and exercise diplomatic protection," he said in the press release.
“I have not taken this decision lightly. I have considered the unacceptable treatment Nazanin has received over three years, including not just lack of access to medical treatment but also lack of due process in the proceedings brought against her.
"My decision is an important diplomatic step which signals to Tehran that its behaviour is totally wrong. It is unlikely to be a magic wand that leads to an overnight result. But it demonstrates to the whole world that Nazanin is innocent and the UK will not stand by when one of its citizens is treated so unjustly.
“Iran is one of the oldest civilisations in the world. I know there are many in Iran who understand the unjustness of this situation. No government should use innocent individuals as pawns for diplomatic leverage so I call on Iran to release this innocent woman so she can be reunited with her family,” he added.
Mr Hunt informed Nazanin’s husband Richard in advance to explain his decision.