British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was imprisoned in Tehran in 2016 under charges of spying and conspiracy. She has spent most of this year under house arrest due to the coronavirus pandemic, but faces a return to prison as soon as next week, her husband says.
Charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces returning to Iranian prison after being recalled to court for fresh proceedings next week and has been told to expect a return to incarceration.
Nazanin was sentenced to five years in prison in September 2016 on vague charges of plotting against and spying on the Iranian regime, something she has always denied. As the coronavirus pandemic escalated in March this year, Nazanin was placed under house arrest in Tehran.
During an appearance on Good Morning Britain yesterday (29 October), Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard spoke about how hard she had taken the news, and his hopes for a court case. “I think the news we got on Monday hit Nazanin very hard, she cried all day,” he told presenters Ben Shephard and Charlotte Hawkins.
“The reality is she will be in court on Monday. She has been threatened that straight after court she’s going back to prison. That is obviously a threat, it hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure there will be a court case.”
He added that these new charges don’t hold any reason for a conviction, and his hopes for acquittal: “Her lawyer is firmly of the view that there’s nothing in the new charges and there’s no reason to convict her… any self-respecting judge will acquit her.”
Nazanin and her family have been in touch with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, and Richard has been clear about his views that Nazanin is being used as a “political pawn” in disputes and potential debts between Iran and the UK. Representatives for the Foreign Office have conveyed “grave concern” at her summons to return to court.
To be going through such an unthinkable situation during a time of global upheaval is difficult to get your head around. There are a few ways that you can support Nazanin and the campaign to free her, including writing to your MP, sign petitions – including Amnesty International’s, as well as Richard’s own – and donating to charities fighting for the cause, including the Redress Trust.