Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to take legal fight to UN over latest trial

Family say supporters should presume the worst after one-day trial over old allegations

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The family of jailed charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe will ask the United Nations to declare the latest Iranian case against her as illegal as she awaits her fate after a new secret trial.

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said that supporters should “presume the worst” after she was accused of spreading propaganda against the regime on Sunday in a case which could see her returned to Evin prison after just completing a five-year sentence.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 42, will have to wait a week to learn of any new punishment following a trial over re-heated claims that she attended a demonstration outside Iran’s embassy in London 12 years ago and spoke to the BBC's Persian service.

Mr Ratcliffe has always said that his wife has been held since April 2016 because of the continuing diplomatic wrangle between the UK and Iran, including the non-payment of a £400 million ($556m) debt over an aborted arms deal dating back decades.

“We are caught in the middle of horse-trading and diplomatic wrangling and the law is a protection in that space,” Mr Ratcliffe told the BBC. “That means going to the UN to declare this new case illegal.”

He said that his wife slept better last night after the one-day trial and expressed relief that she would not have to see her interrogators and the judge again as she “awaits the fate that comes”.

Medical experts warned last week that she required urgent psychiatric treatment because of the conditions she has been kept in. She spent most of her five-year sentence at Evin jail.

She was under effective house arrest confined to her parents’ Tehran home for the final year of her sentence wearing an ankle tag.

The charity that commissioned the medical assessment said it had “grave concerns” that she could be returned to Evin prison or put under house arrest.

A report by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims said she has depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder because of the way she has been treated.

Rupert Skilbeck, director of human rights group Redress, said: “This keeps her in a constant state of fear and uncertainty, and prolongs the severe psychological and physical suffering she has endured as a result of her torture and ill treatment in Iran.”

“Nazanin has never received a fair trial in Iran, and is innocent of the allegations made against her. Her detention has always been illegal under international law. The charge must be dismissed and she must be allowed to return to the UK to be with her family,” he said.

Mr Ratcliffe has said that he fears his wife would receive the maximum sentence in the latest case amid concerns of a new five-year term.

“I have never seen anyone get acquitted from the revolutionary court, I have only seen people get the maximum sentence,” he said. “I think we should presume the worst.”

But he said he hoped that the time she has already served would be taken into account and that she would spend any remaining time at her parents’ home.

He said he was cross that nobody from the British Embassy accompanied her to the court out of concern not to inflame the situation. The UK government was not doing enough to help her, he said.

"It's still at the level of talk rather than action," he said. "If you want to protect someone, you do need to stand next to them in a very visible way."

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