Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces new charge, Iran state TV says

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq confirms Zaghari will face another trial on Sunday

Sam Hancock@samhancock95
Tuesday 08 September 2020 19:03
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The British-Iranian dual national now faces new as-yet unspecified charges
The British-Iranian dual national now faces new as-yet unspecified charges
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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has spent more than three years in jail in Iran, is now facing a new unspecified charge, according to state TV.

The British-Iranian dual national appeared before a branch of the country's Revolutionary Court in Tehran, where she was first sentenced in 2017, on Tuesday morning.

Her court appearance was confirmed by Tulip Siddiq, the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, who said she had “been in touch“ with Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Ms Siddiq said on her Twitter account that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who lived in West Hampstead with her husband and daughter before she was arrested by Iranian authorities on a trip to see her family, “was taken to court this morning and told she will face another trial on Sunday”.

The MP ended her tweet with the popular hashtag FreeNazanin, which Twitter users all around the world are following to show their support for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The latest development appears to dash any hope of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe being allowed to return to the UK. She was granted temporarily release this March at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis but was ordered to stay at her parent’s home in Tehran.

A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said: "Iran bringing new charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is indefensible and unacceptable.

"We have been consistently clear that she must not be returned to prison."

Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted: "This is hostage diplomacy and Iran needs to know that Britain will not stand for it."

 Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016, after travelling to Iran with her young daughter to visit family.

The Iranian government accused Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe of plotting to overthrow the government - claims strongly denied by Nazanin and her family.

She was working for Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency's charitable arm at the time.

Responding to the news, Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:“If confirmed, this would be our worst fears come true. This will be a terrible blow for her, her family and for her many supporters and well-wishers.

“Nazanin has already been convicted once after a deeply unfair trial, and there should be no question of her being put through that ordeal again.

“There have always been concerns that the Iranian authorities were playing cruel political games with Nazanin, and that looks to be the case here.

“As a matter of absolute urgency the UK government should make fresh representations on Nazanin’s behalf, seeking to have any suggestion of a second trial removed.”

Ms Allen added: “Having failed for the past four-and-a-half years to secure her freedom, ministers now need to step up efforts to ensure Nazanin’s full and unconditional release from her house arrest in Tehran, and her safe return to her family here in Britain.”

The new charges come after Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family publicly linked her imprisonment to Iran’s negotiations with the British Government over a £400m settlement held by London, a payment the late Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi made for Chieftain tanks that were never delivered.

Tehran has denied that her detention was linked to the negotiations.

It is believed that the new charges could be an attempt to gain new leverage in the negotiations.

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