Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe feels ‘no grounds for hope’

Detained aid worker’s husband calls on Britain to stand up to Iran

(FILES) This undated file handout image released by the Free Nazanin campaign in London on June 10, 2016 shows Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe posing for a photograph with her husband Richard and daughter Gabriella. British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, held in Iran since 2016, was jailed for a year and banned from leaving the country for a further 12 months, her lawyer said on April 26, 2021. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / FREE NAZANIN CAMPAIGN " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS


 / AFP / Free Nazanin campaign / Handout / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / FREE NAZANIN CAMPAIGN " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is losing hope that UK authorities will secure her release from Iran after MPs described her case as a diplomatic failure.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said his wife feels there "wasn't anything said that gave grounds for hope" after a debate on the issue in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

The aid worker was sentenced to a year of detention and banned from leaving Iran for a year after being found guilty of spreading propaganda, having completed a five-year sentence for alleged spying.

Britain said both charges lacked credibility and urged Iran to let her go.

But Mr Ratcliffe accused UK ministers of “enabling her abuse” by failing to stand up to Tehran and not imposing sanctions on Iranian officials.

He criticised the government for not sending an official to his wife’s most recent court hearing.

“What we were told was that they didn’t want to do something provocative that could cause harm to Nazanin,” he told PA.

“You either stand up and protect her or you allow it to happen. They are taking her to court for the second time on a second stage of nonsense when you’ve invoked diplomatic protection: you need to show that your protection should be taken seriously.”

Mr Ratcliffe said the government’s timidity was a contributing factor to the sentencing.

He said his wife was disappointed Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab did not answer questions on the issue during the debate. Mr Raab was speaking to the upper house of parliament, the House of Lords, at the same time.

“I think she did feel that actually there wasn’t anything said that gave grounds for hope,” he said.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said Iran had put Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other detained British citizens through “a cruel and inhumane ordeal” and the government continued to press for their release.

But Mr Cleverly declined to be drawn on whether the UK would impose sanctions on Iranian officials in retaliation for the new sentence.

“I’m not willing to discuss future sanctions designations for fear that might be prejudicial to any future success,” he told MPs.

“We do, of course, recognise that Iran’s behaviour is unacceptable in a number of ways – not just in the detention of dual nationals, but in regard to their international and regional actions. We call upon Iran to step away from this dangerous and self-destructive route they have taken.”

Tulip Siddiq, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's constituency MP in London, said there was "no evidence" that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was doing anything differently to secure Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release.

“At the heart of this tragic case is the prime minister’s dismal failure to release my constituent and to stand up for her,” she said.

She called on the UK government to repay a £400 million ($555m) debt that Britain owes to Iran for a failed tank deal struck just before the 1979 Iranian revolution.

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