Iranian court upholds London mother's five year prison sentence

Dual Iranian-UK citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was first detained in April last year after a trip to visit her family in Iran with her toddler daughter

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The Independent Online

A London mother’s five-year prison sentence has reportedly been upheld by a Iranian court. 

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has dual British-Iranian citizenship, was sentenced on national security charges in September last year, although the precise reasons for her arrest have not been made public.

A news outlet affiliated with the country’s judiciary reported on Sunday that her original sentence has been upheld by an appeals court in the country’s capital, Tehran.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, where many political prisoners have reported being subject to torture and other cruel and degrading treatment. 

In November her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said that his wife was “at breaking point” and on a hunger strike to protest her incarceration. Her mental health had deteriorated to the point where she had considered suicide after being kept in both solitary confinement and cramped quarters for months at a time.  

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was first detained in April 2016 at Tehran’s airport when leaving back to the UK after a family visit with her then 22-month-old daughter, Gabriella. Gabriella’s passport was also seized, and the toddler remains with her maternal grandparents in Iran.

Iran’s legal system does not recognise dual nationality and those detained cannot receive consular assistance. 

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Before her arrest the London-based 37-year-old worked as a project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency.

Rights group Amnesty International, which has petitioned the UK Government to ensure the safe return of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her child, believes that her detainment may be related to the fact she used to work for the BBC.

The Iranian authorities loathe the BBC’s Persian-language news service, which millions of Iranians watch illegally.