Jailed West Hampstead mum Nazanin Ratcliffe hauled before Iranian court
PUBLISHED: 19:45 02 August 2016 | UPDATED: 19:55 02 August 2016
A West Hampstead father's hopes of soon being reunited with his wife who has been jailed in Iran for 121 days took a cruel blow today after she was hauled before Tehran's revolutionary court.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, and daughter Gabriella, now two, were seized at Tehran airport on April 3 as they returned from a family holiday to visit her parents in Iran.
Nazanin, who has dual British Iranian citizenship was thrown into jail without charge and with no access to a lawyer. Gabriella’s British passport was seized and she is trapped in Iran being looked after by her grandparents.
Mr Ratcliffe said in a rare phone call from wife Nazanin she told him that she had appeared in court yesterday morning for the first time and that she can now have representation by a lawyer.
Richard’s father John Ratcliffe has applied for a visa to attend the trial to support his daughter-in-law and they are waiting to hear back from the Iranian embassy.
In the meantime Richard is desperately worried about his wife’s deteriorating physical condition. “She remains frail – she is losing her hair, she is struggling to regain any weight. This remains a very cruel case.”
But he says it is her psychological condition that worries him more. “When I spoke to Nazanin yesterday she was deeply upset. She is desperate that our daughter has been kept away from her mother and father now for four months. She is desperate to come home.”
Richard had been holding on to the hope that although the British Government has never issued a public statement condemning the actions of the Iranians for detaining his family, the Foreign Office are quietly working behind the scenes to do a deal to bring them home.
But with Nazanin’s appearance in court on Monday these hopes have beeh shattered.
“I am upset that there is no deal for Nazanin. I had hoped the new government were applying pressure. But now it seems that Iran has decided to prosecute Nazanin, and she is to be tried by a Judge,” Richard said.
It is unclear what the precise charges are although the accusations have been made in the Iranian press that she is part of a network plotting against the Iranian state.
He said: “Nazanin’s case is part of a wider pattern. A number of dual nationals have been taken in an effort to justify the fiction that there is a plot of infiltration. The facts remain that Nazanin went to Iran on a family visit, like all the other dual nationals recently arrested. It was the fourth time she had travelled with Gabriella to see her family in Tehran. The idea that this time she might be part of some active plot, when she had no problems before, is not only fantasy, it is a deliberate lie.”
He slammed the Iranian government for its actions.
He said: “It remains shameful to Iran that she and Gabriella are being used as a political bargaining chip in this way.”
“It remains shameful to Britain that our government has never publicly criticised the Iranian regime for its detention of Nazanin and Gabriella, and that it continues to promote trade opportunities in Iran given the risks these now present.”
See the Ham&High on Thursday for the full story and interview with Richard about his continued campaign to bring home his wife and daughter.