Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe loses appeal against jail sentence in Iran

Charity worker could be returned to jail 'at any time'

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British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has lost an appeal against her second jail term in Iran and could be returned to prison “at any time,” her supporters say.

Her London MP said Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s sentence of one year, plus a one-year travel ban, has been “upheld with no court hearing”.

Tulip Siddiq urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “act now” to free Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The Free Nazanin group said there was no summons date yet for her return to prison.

“This is yet another piece of devastating news for my constituent, her family and the millions around the world who care about her. For Nazanin to face a return to prison after the ordeal she’s been through is nothing short of a catastrophe,” said Ms Siddiq.

“It seems that every time we dare to hope that Nazanin might soon be free, there is another dreadful setback that puts freedom out of sight. Whatever the prime minister has been doing to free Nazanin is clearly not working.

“It’s time for the UK government to pay the debt we owe to Iran, stand up to their despicable hostage taking and finally get Nazanin home.”

Supporters link her detention to the UK’s failure to pay an outstanding £400 million ($549m) debt to Iran. She is one of several people with British or dual-British nationality detained in Iran.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 while visiting family with her daughter Gabriella.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was convicted of plotting to overthrow the regime – a charge she strenuously denied – and given a five-year sentence, much of it spent in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

She spent the final year of her sentence under house arrest in Tehran, but after her release this year she was then convicted of “spreading propaganda against the regime”.

Amnesty International also condemned the news and described it as “more torment on top of five-and-a-half years of suffering for Nazanin and her family”.

“Nazanin was subjected to a deeply unfair original trial, was rushed through a farcical second court process and is now confronted by more time behind bars – it’s absolutely excruciating to see this happening," it said.

“We’ve said repeatedly that Boris Johnson, [Foreign Secretary] Liz Truss and others in government need to genuinely step up on Nazanin’s case and other cases where British nationals are being persecuted in Iran.

“We want to see action urgently, and this must include the Government setting out a clear strategy for securing the release of all British nationals unlawfully held in Iran.”

Ms Truss met her Iranian counterpart last month where she “pressed” him on the issue and vowed to “continue to press” him until Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe returns home.

Updated: October 17, 2021, 4:45 AM