Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe could sent back to prison ‘at any time’, MP says

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe could sent back to prison ‘at any time’, MP says
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was taking her daughter to visit her family when she was arrested and was sentenced to five years in prison

The foreign secretary says everything possible is being done to bring Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe home after she lost her most recent appeal in Iran – a setback that her husband described as a “wake-up call” for the government.

Liz Truss said the Iranian decision was “an appalling continuation of the cruel ordeal” for the jailed Briton.

“Instead of threatening to return Nazanin to prison, Iran must release her permanently so she can return home,” Ms Truss said. “We are doing all we can to help Nazanin get home to her young daughter and family and I will continue to press Iran on this point.”

MP Tulip Siddiq said Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe could be sent back to prison “at any time” after her sentence of one year plus a one-year travel ban was “upheld with no court hearing”.

“This is yet another piece of devastating news for my constituent, her family and the millions around the world who care about her,” the MP said. “Whatever the prime minister has been doing to free Nazanin is clearly not working.”

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard Ratcliffe has also criticised the government over the case, saying it “does not deal with problems until they become crises”.

He said he had urged the government as recently as Friday to take quicker action over the appeal.

“The longer we waited, the more chance of bad news. I didn’t expect the next day to get bad news, but we did,” he said. “That’s [the rejection of the appeal] the Iranians signalling they’re not prepared to wait forever and they will do what they need to do.

“Is this going to be a wake-up call for the government? Maybe, maybe not. One of the challenges I find with this government is that it doesn’t deal with problems until they become crises. This is Iran threatening a crisis. One hopes that the government takes it seriously.”

Mr Ratcliffe, who has been campaigning for his wife’s return home since her original incarceration in 2016, said he had been surprised by Saturday’s news.

He said he thought her appeal would have ended up being rejected in November after a “drawn-out court process” as Iran was “always going to confirm guilt, regardless of whether there is any”.

The family of the British-Iranian national marked 2,000 days since her arrest there at the end of last month.

Mr Ratcliffe and the couple’s 7-year-old daughter Gabriella stood on top of a snakes and ladders game board in Parliament Square symbolising the dilemma of being caught between two governments.

Ms Zaghari-Racliffe, who was arrested while on vacation in Iran in 2016, is one of several people with British or dual-British nationality now being held there.

She has been in custody after being accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

Ms Zaghari-Racliffe was taking her daughter, Gabriella, to visit her family when she was arrested and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Four years of her sentence were spent in Evin Prison, before she was moved to Tehran where she was placed under house arrest.

Not long after her release this year, she was was convicted of “spreading propaganda against the regime”.

The family have reportedly been told by Iranian authorities that she is being detained because of the UK’s failure to pay an outstanding £400m debt to Iran.

Amnesty International UK chief executive, Sacha Deshmukh, who has been campaigning for her release alongside the family for a number of years, said: “This is terrible news and is just more torment on top of five-and-a-half years of suffering for Nazanin and her family.

“Nazanin was subjected to a deeply unfair original trial, was rushed through a farcical second court process and is now confronted by more time behind bars – it’s absolutely excruciating to see this happening.

“We’ve said repeatedly that Boris Johnson, [Foreign Secretary] Liz Truss and others in government need to genuinely step up on Nazanin’s case and other cases where British nationals are being persecuted in Iran.

“We want to see action urgently, and this must include the government setting out a clear strategy for securing the release of all British nationals unlawfully held in Iran.”