Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian mother who was imprisoned on trumped-up espionage charges has been sentenced to a further year in prison, this time being found ‘guilty’ of propaganda activities against the Iranian regime.
The charity worker was also given a one-year ban on leaving Iran.
The new charges come after the Iranian government accused Nazanin of taking part in a demonstration in London 12 years ago and giving an interview to the BBC Persian service.
Regardless of whether that is true or not, it highlights the lack of freedom Iranians have to express themselves. Iran’s dictators are well known for brutally silencing their own people who criticise the regime.
Nazanin’s husband Richard Ratcliffe confirmed the latest sentence to the BBC saying the court’s decision was a bad sign and “clearly a negotiating tactic” by the Iranian authorities – who are in the middle of discussions over the country’s nuclear activities.
Nazanin has not yet been taken to prison and she is planning to appeal the decision.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the British government “would be working very hard” to secure her release.
“I don’t think it is right that Nazanin should be sentenced to any more time in jail,” he said. “I think it is wrong she is there in the first place, and we will be working very hard to secure her release from Iran, her ability to return to her family here in the UK, just as we work for all dual national cases in Iran.
“The government will not stop, we will redouble our efforts, and we are working with our American friends on the issue as well.”
The UK is currently in talks with Iran along with France, Germany, the USA, China and Russia to negotiate the return to full compliance of the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.
The UK is not raising Iran’s disastrous human rights records or its treatment of British citizens in these negotiations, but there is no question Nazanin is being used by Iran as a pawn against the UK.
Another British-Iranian dual national, who according to the Foreign Office does not want publicity, is due to face charges on Wednesday, as is a German-Iranian dual national.
Thank you for all the messages regarding Nazanin. Absolutely devastating news and shocking that her husband was only just notified. Another abusive use of her as a bargaining chip. I’m speaking to the family & will update when I know more.
— Tulip Siddiq (@TulipSiddiq) April 26, 2021
Tulip Siddiq, Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s local MP, said: “This is a terrible blow for Nazanin and her family, who have been hoping and praying that she would soon be free to come home. It is devastating to see Nazanin once again being abusively used as a bargaining chip.
“We’ve been told the government has been working behind the scenes to secure Nazanin’s release. These efforts have clearly failed and we deserve an urgent explanation from ministers about what has happened.”
The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said: “This is a totally inhumane and wholly unjustified decision. We continue to call on Iran to release Nazanin immediately so she can return to her family in the UK. We continue to do all we can to support her.”
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