Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says she is ‘relieved’ at avoiding being sent back to jail in Iran


Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says she is ‘relieved’ at avoiding being sent back to jail in Iran as latest court case is adjourned and her house arrest extended as she awaits new trial date

  • She was told she would be returned to Evin prison in Tehran after the hearing
  • She was freed under house arrest in March at her parents’ home in Tehran
  • The mother-of-one is now waiting for the date of her new hearing

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says she is ‘relieved’ at avoiding being sent back to jail in Iran as latest court case is adjourned and her house arrest extended as she awaits new trial date. 

The 42-year-old British-Iranian dual national was told she would be returned to Evin prison in Tehran following Monday’s hearing, but it was adjourned before she could put forward a defence, her husband Richard Ratcliffe said.  

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held in the country since 2016 when she was arrested at Tehran airport following a visit to her parents to introduce them to their granddaughter, Gabriella. 

She was convicted of spying and jailed for five years, although she was freed under house arrest in March as coronavirus swept through Iran’s prisons. 

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was told she would be returned to Evin prison in Tehran 

She was accused of running an online journalism course which prosecutors claimed was aimed at spreading propaganda against the government.  

Mr Ratcliffe said his wife was taken to court on Monday on charges of spreading propaganda against the regime, adding that the evidence presented was the same as when she was convicted in 2016.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said UK authorities did formally request to attend the hearing, but access was denied as Iran does not recognise dual nationality.

The 42-year-old mother-of-one, who has been out of prison on furlough since March due to the coronavirus crisis, is now back under house arrest at her parents’ home in Tehran, with no date for the next court hearing.

Following the trial, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe told her husband she ‘kept imagining the face’ of their young daughter Gabriella, adding: ‘I am so relieved to be back. You have no idea. I was so stressed out.

‘There is no better place than home. I am glad to be home even if just for the time being.’

Amnesty International UK accused the Iranian authorities of ‘playing cruel political games’ with Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and called on the UK Government to make it their ‘absolute priority’ to get her home for Christmas. 

Her local MP Tulip Siddiq said it was ‘hard to imagine the mental torture’ of being threatened with returning to prison.

She is now back under house arrest at her parents' home in Tehran

She is now back under house arrest at her parents’ home in Tehran

‘Nazanin’s safety is my top priority, and I urge the UK Government to make it their top priority too by stepping up consular support and efforts to secure her release,’ the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn added.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab branded Iran’s treatment of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘unacceptable and unjustified’, adding: ‘It tarnishes Iran’s reputation and is causing enormous distress to Nazanin and her family.

‘Iran must end her arbitrary detention and that of all dual British nationals.’ 

‘The Iranian authorities have put an intolerable burden on Nazanin and her family,’ he said in a statement.

‘I am relieved she remains on temporary release, but she needs to be returned home to her family. We continue to make this clear in the strongest terms.’

On Thursday, Iranian ambassador Hamid Baeidinejad was summoned to a meeting at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), where he was told of the UK’s ‘grave concern’ at the development.   

It has been claimed Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held in order to force the UK into settling a multimillion pound dispute with Iran.

The debt dates back to the 1970s when the then-shah of Iran paid the UK £400 million for 1,500 Chieftain tanks.

After he was toppled in 1979, Britain refused to deliver the tanks to the new Islamic Republic and kept the money, despite British courts accepting it should be repaid.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabriella

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabriella

Her lawyers accused Iran of ‘holding Nazanin hostage’ in relation to the debt and urged the UK government to respond with the ‘strongest possible action’. 

 The Iranian authorities have denied any link between the debt and the imprisonment.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport while travelling to show her young daughter to her parents in April 2016.

She was later afforded diplomatic protection by the UK Government, which argues that she is innocent and that her treatment by Iran failed to meet obligations under international law.

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