UK says Iran using detainees as ‘diplomatic leverage’

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt accused Iran on Thursday of detaining innocent people as “an instrument of diplomatic leverage”, after pressing the case of a British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran.

He was speaking after a “very, very frank discussion” with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

In an interview with Sky News television, Hunt raised the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is serving a five-year jail sentence for alleged sedition.

“It’s not just Nazanin,” he said, adding that the Iranian government “are detaining innocent people as an instrument of diplomatic leverage”.

“We can’t do that, and we can’t accept it. We’ve just been talking about Russia – even Russia doesn’t do this.”

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