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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe told she faces new trial in Iran, confirms MP

Charity worker has been held since 2016

08 September, 2020 — By Richard Osley

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

HAMPSTEAD and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq has confirmed that a charity worker locked up in Iran will face new trial.

All campaigns and global publicity have failed to secure the release of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a mother-of-one from West Hampstead who is being held on vague spying charges.

She denies all the charges but has been held since April 2016 when she was arrested at Tehran airport coming back from a family holiday and split up from her daughter Gabriella.

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe’s pleas for her release have included a hunger strike outside the Iranian embassy in London.

Ms Siddiq, who has repeatedly raised Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case in the House of Commons and beyond, said today (Tuesday): “I have been in touch with Nazanin and can confirm that she was taken to court this morning and told she will face another trial on Sunday. I know many people are concerned about her welfare and I’ll keep everyone updated when we have more information.”

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe is already deep into a five-year prison sentence, and the family had to make the decision last year to fly Gabriella back to London to start school. She had been staying with her grandparents, while her mother was detained.

Ms Siddiq added: “The last four years have been excruciating for her husband Richard and her daughter Gabriella, who is growing up without a mother. The United Nations have recognised Nazanin’s imprisonment as arbitrary and unlawful, and any further court case is clearly unacceptable.

“The Government has granted Nazanin diplomatic protection, and for this to mean anything ministers must use that status to demand full transparency from the Iranian authorities and push for diplomats to visit her and attend these court hearings. There is no time for delay – we need an urgent intervention by the UK Government in relation to this drastic move by the Iranian judiciary.

“We must also resolve the outstanding issues in Nazanin’s case, including the £400 million of debt that the Defence Secretary has now acknowledged we owe to Iran.”

Richard Ratcliffe during his hunger strike protest last year

In recent weeks, there has been a temporary release – known as ‘furlough’ – for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is wearing a tag and cannot leave Iran. But every time hopes of a full release are raised, they are soon dashed.

Iranian state television was reporting today that she will face a new charge when she returns to court.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was criticised for his handling of the case when he was foreign secretary when he mistakenly told a parliamentary committee that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been working as a journalist in Iran.

 

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