I am full of admiration for the courage and perseverance of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori, who are facing prolonged detention in Iran on trumped-up convictions.
I know that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) continues to work hard to assist British nationals detained in Iran. I want to see them both released immediately - it would be wonderful if they could be with their families for Christmas.
I am told that the UK Embassy in Tehran continues to request consular access to Mr Ashoori and has been supporting his family. The UK regularly calls on Iran to release all British-Iranian nationals arbitrarily detained, including Mr Ashoori.
I recognise that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ongoing furlough does not represent the final objective of securing her permanent release and I have been assured that the UK's lobbying efforts remain focussed on getting her home. It is appalling that Iran began a new case against Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe - and threatened her with being returned to prison - and I am relieved that the groundless new trial was adjourned.
The Iranian authorities have put an intolerable burden on Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family. It is vital that Iran knows the strength of the UK's convictions regarding this, and so it is encouraging that on 29 October, the Iranian Ambassador was summoned to the FCDO. It was made clear to him that his country’s treatment of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is unjustified and unacceptable, and is causing an enormous amount of distress. Iran is further tarnishing its reputation through its actions towards her.
The UK continues to call on Iran to live up to its responsibilities under international human rights law and the Vienna convention and release dual nationals. Cases continue to be raised at the most senior levels, and discussed at every opportunity with Iranian counterparts.