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British woman jailed for five years in Iran "on secret charges"

Her husband said that she is being treated as a political football.

Image: Change.org

A BRITISH-IRANIAN woman has been imprisoned for five years in Iran “on secret charges”, her husband says.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a 37-year-old charity worker who went to Iran for a holiday to visit family in March.

While at the airport on her way back to the UK on 3 April, she was detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. She works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the Reuters news agency.

Her daughter Gabriella, who is 22 months old, has British citizenship. Her passport was confiscated and she is stranded in Iran with her grandparents.

Richard Ratcliffe said that his wife is being treated like a political football. He told the BBC that his wife has been jailed “on secret charges”, and described the situation as punishment “without crime”.

He said that his wife asked a guard what the charges against her were, and she was told “national security charges”.

He has not yet seen his wife in person since her arrest.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe detained Richard Ratcliffe, husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, delivers a petition to 10 Downing Street in London, to mark 100 days of her detention without charge in an Iranian prison. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Richard Ratcliffe said after his wife’s arrest:

It is hard to understand how a young mother and her small child on holiday could be considered an issue of national security. She has been to Iran to visit her family regularly since making Britain her home.

Speaking to BBC News this evening, Ratcliffe spoke of his “shock and horror and disbelief” over the fact his wife has been given a five-year prison sentence.

He said that “what’s going on I don’t know”.

“Being held in this way is just outrageous.”

He said the British embassy in Iran is doing what it can to deal with the situation.

He said Nazanin is no longer being interrogated and that she is able now to have family visits in the new prison. She is weak and her hair is falling out, he said.

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“She’s embittered that she’s missed a quarter of her daughter’s life,” he said.

He set up a petition to call for Prime Minister Theresa May to use her power and intervene in the situation. So far, 804,519 people have signed the petition.

The UK appointed an ambassador to Iran yesterday – the first one since 2011.

Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO Monique Villa said she is “outraged” by the news.

This is a very serious condemnation that comes without any charges or evidence being made public. I have instructed the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s lawyers to find out what these charges are and I know that Nazanin’s family has asked the same of their lawyer in Iran.

She reiterated her “total support to Nazanin and her family in these terrible circumstances and I ask the Iranian authorities to release her as soon as possible”.

I am convinced of her innocence and reiterate that she had no dealings with Iran whatsoever in her professional capacity at the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The Foundation does not operate in Iran directly or indirectly.
We continue to work very closely with Richard, the UK Foreign Office and the British authorities to find a resolution to this terrible situation.

Emily Thornberry MP, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, described it as “no longer good enough for Downing Street and the Foreign Office to ‘raise concerns’ about this case”, adding “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.

Read: Academics protest against imprisonment of Irish citizen in Iran>

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