Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe heartbreak as she ‘loses latest appeal in Iran’

·4-min read
Undated family handout file photo of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (PA) (PA Media)
Undated family handout file photo of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (PA) (PA Media)

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has lost her latest appeal in Iran, meaning she could be sent back to prison “at any time”, her MP has said.

Labour’s Tulip Siddiq confirmed Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s sentence of one year plus a one-year travel ban has been “upheld with no court hearing”.

The Hampstead and Kilburn MP has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Government to intervene in the case.

Ms Siddiq said: “This is yet another piece of devastating news for my constituent, her family and the millions around the world who care about her. For Nazanin to face a return to prison after the ordeal she’s been through is nothing short of a catastrophe.

“It seems that every time we dare to hope that Nazanin might soon be free, there is another dreadful setback that puts freedom out of sight. Whatever the Prime Minister has been doing to free Nazanin is clearly not working.

“It’s time for the UK Government to pay the debt we owe to Iran, stand up to their despicable hostage taking and finally get Nazanin home.”

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, a British-Iranian dual national, has been in custody in the country since 2016 after being accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

Richard Ratcliffe and his daughter Gabriella in Parliament Square (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)
Richard Ratcliffe and his daughter Gabriella in Parliament Square (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

She was taking her daughter Gabriella to see her family when she was arrested and was sentenced to five years in prison shortly afterwards, spending four years in Evin Prison.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard Ratcliffe said he felt the latest action by the Iranian Government has now “focused minds” on her future.

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife’s future was more “abstract” until today as she had finished her sentence in April and remained at her family’s home in Tehran with no idea whether or not she would face prison again.

He told the PA news agency: “Technically, she’s now just waiting for the phone call, saying ‘Turn up at this prison on this day.’

“Essentially, there’s a sword hanging over us now, it will at some point fall down. It’s hard to know when, and it’s hard to know what could stop it falling at this point. It’s clearly a signal that the ball’s in the Government’s court to do something.”

He added the family is now thinking “what they can do to protect Nazanin” once she is in prison, but added he “does not have any clear answers on that at this point”.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent the final year of her sentence under house arrest in Tehran, but after her release this year she was then convicted of “spreading propaganda against the regime”.

Her family has reportedly been told by Iranian authorities that she is being detained because of the UK’s failure to pay an outstanding £400 million debt to Iran.

She is one of several people with British or dual-British nationality detained in Iran.

Mr Ratcliffe, Ms Siddiq and Amnesty International have been campaigning for her release for several years.

Amnesty International UK chief executive Sacha Deshmukh said: “This is terrible news and is just more torment on top of five-and-a-half years of suffering for Nazanin and her family.

“Nazanin was subjected to a deeply unfair original trial, was rushed through a farcical second court process and is now confronted by more time behind bars – it’s absolutely excruciating to see this happening.

“We’ve said repeatedly that Boris Johnson, (Foreign Secretary) Liz Truss and others in Government need to genuinely step up on Nazanin’s case and other cases where British nationals are being persecuted in Iran.

“We want to see action urgently, and this must include the Government setting out a clear strategy for securing the release of all British nationals unlawfully held in Iran.”

Last month, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss met with her Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian at the United Nations General Assembly, where she “pressed” him on the issue and vowed to “continue to press” him until Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe returns home.

On Saturday, she described the loss of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s appeal as an “appalling continuation of the cruel ordeal she is going through”.

Ms Truss said in a statement: “Iran’s decision to proceed with these baseless charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is an appalling continuation of the cruel ordeal she is going through.

“Instead of threatening to return Nazanin to prison, Iran must release her permanently so she can return home.

“We are doing all we can to help Nazanin get home to her young daughter and family, and I will continue to press Iran on this point.”

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