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Boris’s critics risk becoming Tehran’s unwitting helpers

9 November 2017

4:59 PM

9 November 2017

4:59 PM

Boris Johnson made a mistake when he said that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been training journalists in Iran. He and the Foreign Office should have moved to clear up the error far faster and far more comprehensively than they did. But some of Boris Johnson’s critics are risking turning themselves into Tehran’s unwitting helpers.

Take, for example, Emily Thornberry’s letter to Boris Johnson saying that he should resign if Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s sentence is extended. This proposal would, effectively, hand the Iranian regime a veto over who the British Foreign Secretary should be.

All of us talking about this matter should also be aware of what Tehran is up to. They like to use dual nationals as pawns in their diplomatic games; they have arrested 30 of them in the past two years. The more political controversy there is over her case here, the more valuable Tehran will consider her to be.

It is hard to imagine what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family are going through right now. But turning her detention into an issue in British domestic politics won’t help her, and might have quite the opposite effect. The Iranian regime are, after all, acutely aware of what appears in our media. No good will come of encouraging them to think that they can use this poor woman to inflict political damage on the British government.

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