Action Urged Over Jailing Of UK Mother In Iran


Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, a charity worker from Hampstead in north London, has already been detained in Iran for more than 150 days after being accused of plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime.

She was arrested at Imam Khomeini airport on 3 April as she attempted to return to the UK following a holiday with her daughter Gabriella, who was two in June. 

A five-year sentence was handed down by the Revolutionary Court on Tuesday – the day after the UK and Iran resumed closer diplomatic ties.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said: “It is no longer good enough for Downing Street and the Foreign Office to ‘raise concerns’ about this case.

“It is time for them to demand answers.

“In the same week that we have restored a UK ambassador to Iran, it beggars belief that a British citizen should be jailed for five years without any statement of the charge against her, and it is grotesque that a young mother should be removed from her baby to serve as a pawn in prisoner swaps.

“The Iranian government needs to drop this case and return Nazanin to her family here in Britain, and her own government needs to demand that action now.”

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe called her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, on Friday to confirm the sentence.

She said: “Five years is ridiculous. For what? We will appeal. But I don’t know how long it will take, how long it will last. Months?”

When Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe asked a prison guard what she was accused of, he apparently said it was “national security charges”.

Mr Ratcliffe, who has described his wife’s jailing as “a punishment without a crime”, said: “Nazanin’s detention and charges have always felt like she and Gabriella are being held as a political bargaining chip for internal and international politics.

“The fact that she was sentenced with unrecognisable charges the day after the UK Embassy was upgraded, makes this all the clearer.

“Why the Revolutionary Guard wishes to manoeuvre the judiciary to announce through me the sentence but not the charges I do not know.”

Mr Ratcliffe said his wife had described Tehran’s Evin Prison as “horrendous”, and had lost a dangerous amount of weight since being detained.

Their two-year-old daughter is being cared for by her grandparents in Tehran. 

The Foreign Office said it was “deeply concerned”, and that the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary would continue to raise the case with the Iranian authorities.  

“We have been supporting her family since we were first made aware of her arrest and Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood, met the family this week to reassure them that we will continue to do all we can,” a spokeswoman said. 

“While we continue to press the Iranians for consular access and for due process to be followed, we also stand ready to help get her daughter back safely to the UK if requested.” 

News Source SkyNews

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