Britain's Johnson to meet husband of aid worker jailed in Iran

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The Foreign Secretary has apologised for the "distress" and "suffering" he caused by his suggestion that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was training journalists in Iran, which has exposed her to the threat of her five-year jail sentence being doubled.

Today's meeting will discuss her husband Richard Ratcliffe's recent request that the British government consider extending "diplomatic protection" to his wife.

It said Johnson had sought advice from officials on whether conferring the status of diplomatic protection could help, "including what impact it would have on the support now being provided and the representations already being made on Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's behalf".

"She was there on holiday and that is the view".

Evin Prison in Tehran has a wing of political prisoners
Image Evin Prison in Tehran has a wing of political prisoners

"My remarks on the subject before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee could and should have been clearer and I acknowledge that the words I used were open to being misinterpreted and I apologize to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family if I inadvertently caused them any further anguish", Johnson said.

Mr Ratcliffe said his wife is "on the verge of a nervous breakdown" and angry at the Foreign Secretary for allowing the situation to become "a shambles".

Responding to Labour's initial question, Mr Johnson earlier outlined the circumstances of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's arrest before adding the UK Government has "no doubt" she was in Iran on holiday.

Despite her family pleading for help from the Foreign Office for more than 18 months, Mr Johnson told the foreign affairs committee earlier this month she had been training journalists in Iran. Some critics have called for Johnson to resign, but Ratcliffe said it would not be in his wife's best interests.

Her family have always maintained she was on holiday with her daughter. There are also fears she is developing cancer after finding lumps in her breasts.

The foreign secretary has sought advice from officials to determine whether conferring the status could help, including what impact it would have on the support provided and the representations being made on Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's behalf, according to the United Kingdom government.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held by Tehran since April 2016 after being accused of spying - charges she denies.

Mr Ratcliffe, an accountant from Hampstead in North London, said he had spoken to his wife yesterday.

'She expressed anger at the guards, but also at the Foreign Secretary, that it had become such a shambles.

Ratcliffe will meet Johnson and his consular specialists at the Foreign Office on Wednesday.

'This is life or death.