| 2 October 2022, Sunday |

Iran court upholds jail term for UK-Iranian aid worker, lawyer says

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian relief worker, was sentenced to a year in prison for security violations by an Iranian appeals court on Saturday, according to her lawyer.

“Without holding a hearing, the appeals court has approved the lower court’s verdict,” attorney Hojjat Kermani told the Emtedad website.

Just a month after completing a previous five-year sentence, an Iranian court condemned Zaghari-Ratcliffe to a fresh term in prison on allegations of propaganda against Iran’s ruling system. That sentence, however, has not yet begun.

In April 2016, Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at a Tehran airport and eventually convicted of trying to destabilize the religious system.

Iran’s judiciary has yet to issue an official statement on the appeals court judgment.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family and the foundation have denied the charges. The foundation is a charity that operates independently of media firm Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who served out most of her first sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison, was released in March 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic and kept under house arrest. In March 2021, she was released from house arrest but she was summoned to court again on the new charge.

British lawmaker Tulip Siddiq said she had spoken to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard.

“Nazanin has lost her latest appeal and her sentence of 1 year plus 1 year travel ban is upheld with no court hearing. She could now be returned to prison at any time,” Siddiq said in a tweet, urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to intervene.

The detentions of dozens of dual nationals and foreigners have complicated ties between Iran and several European countries including Germany, France and Britain, all parties to Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers.

“Iran’s decision to proceed with these baseless charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is an appalling continuation of the cruel ordeal she is going through,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

“Instead of threatening to return Nazanin to prison Iran must release her permanently.”

The court decision came as indirect talks between Iran and the United States to revive the nuclear deal have stalled after the election of hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi as president.

  • Reuters