The UK Foreign Secretary has warned Iran that it has ‘serious concerns’ after two women with joint-British citizenship were arrested in the country.
Dominic Raab summoned the Iranian ambassador on Wednesday to voice his concerns ‘about the number of dual national citizens detained by Iran and their conditions of detention,’ the Foreign Office said.
One of the women is a blogger who was travelling through Asia with her Australian boyfriend. The other is an academic who studied at Cambridge and was lecturing in Australia before her arrest.
Dominic Raab spoke with the Iranian ambassador on Wednesday and warned of ‘serious concerns’ around detention and treatment of the two women
The women have been incarcerated in the Evin prison in Tehran, pictured, where Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 41, a British-Iranian mother, has been held since 2016 over accusations of spying
The Australian boyfriend has also been arrested.
The women are thought to be the first British passport holders without dual-Iranian citizenship to have been jailed in the country for several years.
The arrests come amid heightened tensions between Iran and Britain.
The blogger has been detained in a ward for female political prisoners where Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, is currently held.
She and her boyfriend were arrested about ten weeks ago as they travelled in Iran during a trip they had been blogging on social media.
The blogger has been detained in a ward for female political prisoners where Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe (pictured), is currently held
They started their journey in Australia about three years ago and followers of their accounts have posted concerns about their recent silence.
A source told newspaper that Iranian authorities told the woman she was being held in a bid to orchestrate a prisoner swap with Australia.
The same source said the lecturer is in solitary confinement after she was sentenced to ten years in prison for an unknown offence. The sentence is common for foreign nationals charged with espionage.
Tulip Siddiq, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s Labour MP, told The Times: ‘This terrible news shows a clear escalation of Iran’s hostage diplomacy.
Mr Ratcliffe, pictured outside the Iranian embassy in London in June, said Iran must be made to understand that ‘hostage diplomacy is not OK’
‘Soft diplomatic responses to Iran’s illegal and inhumane treatment of British prisoners have been a failure.’
Richard Ratcliffe, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, told the paper: ‘I complained to the foreign secretary last week that we’d been seeing an escalation from Iran in recent months, even since our hunger strike, publicly taking Nazanin to hospital in chains and restricting her visits and calls, new big sentences announced for other innocent people, and more British citizens being taken, even non-Iranian.’
He said Iran must be made to understand ‘hostage diplomacy is not OK’ and the UK Government ‘cannot keep sitting quietly by while ordinary people are being taken as bargaining chips’.
The Foreign Office declined to comment.