Iran today declined from reports that prison worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe could be imprisoned as part of a prison exchange.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif seemed to suggest that the British-Iranian mother could be released in exchange for an Iranian woman detained in Australia for an American extradition request.
In a later interview, however, he explained his earlier comments, saying that Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe had a & # 39; individual case & # 39; belonged to those prisoners detained by order of the Americans.
It comes just a few hours after her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said the claims that she could be released in exchange & # 39; real hope & # 39; were that she could be home soon & # 39 ;.
Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested on April 3, 2016 with her daughter Gabriella at Tehran & Imam Khomeini Airport when she was preparing for a plane back to the UK after visiting family
Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested on April 3, 2016 with her daughter Gabriella at Tehran & Imam Khomeini Airport when she was preparing for a plane back to the UK after visiting relatives.
Mr. Zarif said today: & # 39; The offer that I made was people who were imprisoned in the United States or elsewhere in the world at American request. But the Iranian-British woman is a separate matter. & # 39;
Downing Street confirmed that the government had not received any approach from Tehran regarding a possible prisoner exchange.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: “The treatment of all British-Iranians detained in Iran, including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, is a priority for the government.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has withdrawn today from suggestions that charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe can release as part of a prison exchange
& # 39; We remain concerned about all our consular affairs and raise them at every level and every opportunity. & # 39;
Earlier, speaking to the Asia Society in New York on Wednesday, Mr Zarif seemed to make a connection between the case of Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe – who is serving a five-year prison sentence for espionage, an indictment she strongly violates – with that of the woman in australia.
& # 39; Now we hear about Nazanin Zaghari and her child, and I feel sorry for them and I did my best to help, but no one is talking about this woman in Australia who gave birth to a child in prison whose child grows up outside prison with mother in prison, & he said.
& # 39; What can I do as Foreign Minister? And I have publicly put this offer on the table. Replace them. & # 39;
Richard Ratcliffe, speaks today at Good Morning Britain from central London
Mr. Ratcliffe said his family & # 39; very surprised & # 39; was after yesterday's announcement, but said it was & # 39; important not to get our expectations too high & # 39 ;.
Yesterday, Goodcliffe spoke from central London, Ratcliffe said before the Foreign Minister's assertions that her family hoped she would be released on medical grounds after she & # 39; multiple health complaints & # 39; had.
He told the ITV program: & # 39; We were very surprised. We did not expect it at all.
& # 39; We never felt that there would be anything like a prisoner exchange.
& # 39; It is important not to get the expectations too high. We have had bumps, sincere hope that has become false storms.
& # 39; There is potential for real hope, and she could be home very quickly. & # 39;
Mr Ratcliffe, pictured with his wife, told the ITV program today: "We were very surprised. We did not expect it at all & # 39; before the Foreign Minister went back to progress
He added: & # 39; What we hoped behind closed doors was a medical release.
& # 39; She has had multiple health issues, so we hoped this would lead somewhere. & # 39;
He added: & # 39; We should talk to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about this.
& # 39; It is a much more complex set of arrangements than we expected.
& # 39; I need to have a conversation with the UK and the state department.
& # 39; Without being carried away, it is a good thing, that is something good for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work on. & # 39;
Speaking of how she deals with prison, he said she is going through & # 39; phases & # 39; and & # 39; milestone to milestone & # 39; is alive, but fears that she may go on hunger strike again if she is not released soon.
He said: & # 39; An Iranian New Year passed and that was a milestone where she wanted to be home.
& # 39; She has nearly run out of telephone.
I don't think it will take much longer before she does anything again – hunger strike like last time. & # 39;
Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to five years in prison after being accused of espionage by the Islamic regime of Tehran, an indictment she strongly denies.
The 40-year-old is serving a five-year prison sentence in Tehran's infamous Evin prison
The 40-year-old is serving a five-year prison sentence in Tehran's infamous Evin prison.
The trial by a revolutionary court in Tehran was widely condemned as unfair and she strongly denied the charges against her.
Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt granted diplomatic protection to Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe last month.
But Tehran refuses to recognize her dual nationality and said the British actions were illegal.
Mr. Hunt met Mr. Zarif last September and wrote on Twitter: & # 39; I insisted on prompt resolution of all our bilateral consular affairs, including Nazanin. NOT acceptable to arbitrarily detain innocent people at the expense of huge human fears. & # 39;
Prime Minister Theresa May has also told Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that she & # 39; have serious concerns & # 39; on the detention of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe.