Thank you to all those who have expressed their concerns about these British citizens.
I am aware of both of these cases, indeed, in the last Parliament, I co-signed a letter to the Foreign Secretary urging him to work with his counterparts to facilitate the release of both prisoners.
Since Parliament has returned, I know that Ministers and the Secretary of State continue to make representations at all levels with the Iranian Government. For example, on 17 February, the Foreign Secretary discussed Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case with the Iranian Foreign Minister and her family have now confirmed that she has legal representation.
However, the fact that Iran does not recognise dual nationality (which both detainees have) makes progress difficult. Iran considers them to be Iranian and therefore does not recognise the British Government’s right to consular access. That said, Britain has re-opened our embassy in Iran and new relationships are opening up. Indeed, Alistair Burt, the new Minister for the Middle East, has pledged to continue to act in the best interests of the detainees as well as listening to those with new ideas and to the families so the Government does as much for them as it possibly can.
This must be incredibly distressing for the families of those in prison so please be assured I will continue to monitor the progress of this situation closely.