Iranian state TV has said Boris Johnson's comments on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe were an "unintended confession", contradicting the foreign secretary's own claims to parliament.
Last night a broadcast said the minister had inadvertently revealed "the real plot", offering "proof" that the Iranian government's charges against Zaghari-Ratcliffe were valid.
The comments were translated by BBC Persian reporter last night.
#Iran stateTV welcomes @BorisJohnson's remarks ab Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (@FreeNazanin) as an "unintended confession of the UK gov ab the real plot” behind her trip to Iran & a “proof” of #IRGC's accusations against her.” via @NarimanGharib pic.twitter.com/ZaC1T8EVqA— Hadi Nili (@HadiNili) November 8, 2017
The British-Iranian woman was arrested last April and is currently serving a five year sentence, but now faces new charges of “propaganda against the regime”, which are thought to carry a further five year sentence.
The statement relates to Johnson's remarks to the foreign affairs select committee last week, when he said she was "simply teaching journalism", a claim vehemently denied by Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband and employer, who have consistently said she was on holiday with her daughter.
On Tuesday the MP for Uxbridge offered a mealy-mouthed apology after nearly an hour of being pressed on the matter, telling MPs he was "sorry if any words of mine have been so taken out of context, or so misconstrued, as to cause any kind of anxiety to the family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe".
He insisted his point had been that he "disagreed with the Iranian view that training journalists was a crime, not that I wanted to lend any credence to Iranian allegations that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been engaged in such activity", adding: "I accept that my remarks could have been clearer in that respect and I’m glad to provide this clarification."
Crucially, the foreign secretary added that his Iranian counterpart had confirmed his comments had "no bearing" on their decision to add to her sentence.
A Foreign Office spokesman reiterated this when asked about last night's broadcast.
He said: “The Iranian foreign minister assured the foreign secretary that his earlier remarks at the foreign affairs committee will have no bearing on Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case and that he remains committed to working with the UK government to secure her release on humanitarian grounds.”
“The foreign secretary made clear in Parliament that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was visiting Iran on holiday and that was the sole purpose of her visit.”
Johnson is due to visit Iran before the end of the year, where he hopes to meet Zaghari-Ratcliffe. He has also said he hopes to meet her husband before flying, after it emerged he had failed to do so despite several requests.