British-Iranian dual citizen Ana Diamond tells of her year-long ordeal in Evin prison

Ms Diamond was 19 when she was locked up in the same block as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Ana Diamond pictured in Iran a few weeks after her release on bail. It was the first time she had been allowed access to professional medical services. Photo: Ana Diamond
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A young British woman has spoken of her ordeal inside a jail in Iran where she faced the death penalty as a teenager.

Ana Diamond was 19 when she was locked up for a year in Evin prison, in the same block as British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Ms Diamond said she suffered brutal treatment at the hands of guards who said she would never be released.

Ana Diamond stands under wisteria flowers at Balliol College, at the University of Oxford. Photo: Ana Diamond

She was terrorised by her captors and spent 200 days in solitary confinement in a small, windowless cell in the Tehran prison. She was regularly blindfolded and suffered brutal interrogation.

Jailers taunted the student about her hopes of graduating from university.

But she has now achieved a first-class honours degree from King’s College London.

“The guards said that the only place I would graduate from would be Evin University,” she said.

“My success demonstrates how dreams cannot be chained, stolen or put into exile.”

The British-Iranian dual citizen, 24, has also received a scholarship for a postgraduate degree in modern Middle Eastern studies at the University of Oxford.

"This is the beginning of a new chapter," she told The Times.

She was congratulated by Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is still under house arrest in Tehran on trumped up charges. She emailed Ms Diamond to wish her luck.

The pair were incarcerated in the same jail after Ms Diamond was stopped at Tehran airport in 2015 and arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, at the height of negotiations over the nuclear deal in which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

Ana Diamond in hospital following health complications she encountered once out of prison and back in the UK. Photo: Ana Diamond

The IRGC accused her of spying for MI6, the CIA and Israel’s Mossad intelligence service after confiscating her laptop.

The computer had pictures of Ms Diamond at a Young Conservatives event alongside senior British politicians such as Theresa May and David Cameron.

She was subsequently charged with espionage and apostasy and sentenced to death. The prosecutor at her Special Clerical Court trial was new Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi.

Ms Diamond, born in Iran, had lived in Europe since the age of 4, but flew to Tehran to visit her grandmother.

She escaped captivity in 2017 after Boris Johnson, British foreign secretary at the time, flew to Iran to pressure the regime into releasing all prisoners held on spurious charges, including Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Ms Diamond’s conviction was quashed and she fled the country on an emergency passport.

An image of Ana Diamond with Boris Johnson, one of the photos used as evidence against her in her trial. Photo: Ana Diamond

She was helped to recover from her ordeal by former hostage Terry Waite, who was held for four years in Lebanon after being captured by a terrorist group in 1987.

“The most important thing he told me was that I should try to use this time of imprisonment creatively and look at it as something that strengthens my character," she said.

Ms Diamond, who helped set up the Alliance Against State Hostage Taking organisation, has helped Richard Ratcliffe campaign for his wife’s release.

Last year she wrote an open letter in English and Farsi to the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Al Khamenei, asking him to intervene in the new criminal case brought against Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.