Sunday March 14th 2021
Five years imprisonment, one week off
Briton is on trial again in Iran
In 2016, the Brit-Iranian Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested while on vacation in Iran and was imprisoned for five years. A week ago she was released, now a new trial against the alleged subversive begins. Her daughter was only one year old when Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested.
A week after the end of her five-year prison sentence, a new trial of the British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has started in Iran. The 42-year-old had to answer for propaganda allegations before a revolutionary court in Tehran, as her lawyer Hodschdschat Kermani announced. London sharply condemned the move.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in 2016 while on vacation in Iran. The Iranian authorities accused her of taking part in anti-government protests seven years earlier. A court sentenced her to five years in prison for conspiracy to overthrow. Zaghari-Ratcliffe had always denied the allegations. At that time she was working as a project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The mother of a now six-year-old daughter served her sentence in prison first. When the corona pandemic broke out in the spring of last year, she was transferred to house arrest with her parents in Tehran. On Sunday last week, the 42-year-old was then removed from the electronic ankle cuff. But she could not return to her family in Great Britain.
Zaghari-Ratcliffes Future “remains unclear”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe is now on trial again for “anti-system propaganda”. According to her lawyer, she is charged with participating in a rally in front of the Iranian embassy in London in 2009.
Kermani said Zaghari-Ratcliffe attended Sunday’s hearing. The hearing took place in a “very calm and good atmosphere”. Given the evidence presented by the prosecution and the fact that his client had served her previous sentence, he hoped to be acquitted. However, the judgment will only be announced at a later date.
The support organization Free Nazanin was less optimistic. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s future “remains unclear,” she said. The 42-year-old had denied all allegations in court and pointed out “that all allegations and evidence presented were already part of her trial in 2016”.
Sharp criticism from London
The case has strained diplomatic relations between Tehran and London for years. The British government strongly condemned the new trial. “It is unacceptable that Iran has decided to lead a second completely arbitrary trial against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe,” wrote Foreign Minister Dominic Raab on Sunday on the online service Twitter. Tehran must allow the 42-year-old to return “immediately” to her family in Great Britain.
The British and Iranian media have speculated that Nazanin’s arrest may be linked to Britain’s unsettled debt to Iran of around £ 300 million (€ 350 million). The governments of both countries deny this.
During her time in Tehran’s Evin Prison, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was held in solitary confinement in a windowless cell for a long time and went on a hunger strike at times. According to her husband, she suffered from the hygienic conditions and also had suicidal thoughts. The organization Redress evaluates her treatment in the detention center as torture. The Iranian authorities have always denied any mistreatment.