| 20 May 2024, Monday |

Trial of British-Iranian aid worker Zaghari-Ratcliffe was held in Iran: lawyer

The trial of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe at Iran’s Revolutionary court was held on Sunday, her lawyer Hojjat Kermani told Reuters, hoping she would be acquitted from the charge of “propaganda against the system”.

“Her trial was held at branch 15 of the Revolutionary court. Her charge is propaganda against the system,” Kermani said, noting that “Zaghari-Ratcliffe was fine and calm at the court session”.

“The trial was held in a calm atmosphere. The final defense was taken. Legally, the court should announce the judgment in a week but it is up to the judge. I am very hopeful that she will be acquitted.”

The Iranian Judiciary was not immediately available to comment.

Iran had released Zaghari-Ratcliffe from house arrest last Sunday at the end of a 5-year prison sentence, but she had been summoned to court again on the other charge.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was detained at a Tehran airport back in April 2016 and later convicted of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment.

Zaghari’s family and the foundation, a charity that operates independently of media firm Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters, deny the charge.

The foundation was not immediately available for comment on Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s trial.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who served out most of her sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison, was released last March during the COVID-19 pandemic and kept under house arrest, but her movements were restricted and she was barred from leaving Iran.

Last Sunday, Iranian authorities removed her ankle tag, but she still could not leave the country.

When asked whether she could leave Iran, Kermani said:”I don’t know about her travel ban situation.”

British foreign minister Dominic Raab praised the removal of the ankle tag, adding however that Iran continued to put Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family through a “cruel and an intolerable ordeal”.

In a call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Zaghari-Ratcliffe must be allowed to return home to her family.

Iranian media reported that during the call, Rouhani raised the issue of a 400-million-pound historical debt which Tehran says Britain owes the Islamic Republic in capital and interest for a 1970s arms deal with the then-Shah of Iran.

  • Reuters