The British husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, who was arrested in Iran on 3 April 2016, has criticised the way the Foreign Office is handling her case. He has accused the UK's diplomatic service office for its negligence and working slowly.
Richard Ratcliffe said he feels he has been "gamed" by the Foreign Office officials and says they are prioritising trade over the welfare of British citizens. He also said that officials have asked him not to go public with the case.
"I don't think Nazanin and Gabriella's case, nor any of the others, is a top priority at the moment. The top priority of the Foreign Office is trade," Richard Ratcliffe, who alleges that the officials are ignoring his wife's and daughter Gabriella's safety, told the Guardian.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation as a project manager, holds dual British-Iranian citizenship. She was detained during the "massive intelligence operations" at Tehran's international airport, which had identified her as a senior foreign spy.
In the past three months, like Zaghari-Ratcliffe, two other women holding dual citizenship have been detained in Iran.
"We would have a series of calls and there would be a sort of strange dynamic where occasionally it felt like they were almost trying to get me on record as having said how helpful [they had been]," said Ratcliffe. "It's like dealing with a f**king insurance company trying to get out of paying a claim. This is a really odd definition of support, isn't it? It is a really odd dynamic to be covering your a**e that early on."
Ratcliffe said that the office told him, "This is a delicate matter, we'll hope the Iranians will be nice."
"It's like, delicate? I mean, if this was your wife? They can use political capital to force the situation. But there has been no public statement of criticism by a senior politician, and the Iranians notice that," he added while describing the government's way of handling the case.
However, the officials have denied the allegations by Richard and said: "We have been supporting Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe family since we were first made aware of her arrest. Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood, has met personally with the family to reassure them that we will continue to do all we can on this case."
Zaghari-Ratcliffe is in Kerman prison, while her daughter is currently with her paternal grandparents in Iran.