08:36 GMT31 May 2020
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    Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the Iranian-British dual citizen who has been jailed in Tehran since 2016, has been granted diplomatic protection by the United Kingdom. The news broke in a statement by UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

    What does this decision mean? And what might it lead to? Sputnik discussed the development with Tehran-based journalist Hamid Reza Gholamzadeh.

    Sputnik: In international law, diplomatic protection is a rare legal procedure. What does the decision of granting it to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe mean? 

    Hamid Reza Gholamzadeh: The action actually shows what kind of asset Mrs. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is for the British government; and it's some sort of proof that she has not been visiting her family, rather she was doing something for the British government — and it's another proof of fact that she has been doing something like espionage or something like that, which she is accused of.

    Let's remember that Mr. Boris Johnson also had once admitted that she has been there for work, not just for a family visit. So all these things show that Iran is right in actually thinking she was [carrying out] illegal activity: she has been here with a tourist visa, but she has been doing work; she has been doing works of espionage, and these are all proofs of that.

    READ MORE: Iranian-Briton Detained in Tehran Left More Vulnerable After Boris Johnson Quits

    And this [decision to grant her] diplomatic protection is showing that she is an asset to the British government, and she has been doing something for them. That's why they are [offering her] the support. But the point is that she hasn't come here with a diplomatic passport and a diplomatic visa. She has come here with a normal passport and with other citizens, and she was supposed to just pay a visit to her family and not [carry out] any activity and not do any work. And she has been doing that. So, technically, it's not going to help her — to just announce that someone is a political person, a diplomatic person.

    Sputnik: Do you think that this new status will change anything for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe?

    Hamid Reza Gholamzadeh: I don't think that announcing her diplomatic person is going to change anything; it's not going to change what she has been doing; it's not going to [change] what she has been doing illegally. The British government also knows that it's not going to help her that much, unless they're working [to create] — let's say — a media hype, some tension in the media to put pressure on Iran, while it is not something that is accepted by the Iranian government. You can send many people for espionage, for violation, for terrorism and such things, and then put some diplomatic protection on that person. It's not going to work like that. That's what the UK is doing right now.

    Sputnik: Since Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case has now become a legal dispute between Britain and Iran, how will this development impact on the two countries' diplomatic ties?

    Hamid Reza Gholamzadeh: The legal procedure here in Iran — just like in many other countries — is independent from the government. So the government cannot force the judiciary to decide the way they want it to, or the way foreign countries demands them to. What's happening to Mrs. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is not something to blame the Iranian government for.

    READ MORE: Tehran Accuses Arrested UK-Iranian Woman of Plotting Coup d'Etat

    So the British government cannot actually put pressure on the Iranian government, and ask them to put pressure on the judiciary system. If the British government expects the Iranian government to put pressure on the judiciary, then it's not going to work like that. Maybe they'll want to use it as a means to cut ties or reduce diplomatic ties, but the Iranian government truly cannot do anything about that. 

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    allegations, espionage, detention, arrest, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Iran, United Kingdom
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