Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe given new 'inhumane' prison sentence
- Credit: Free Nazanin
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been sentenced to another year in Iranian prison, her lawyer told an Iranian news website.
The West Hamstead mum has been awaiting a verdict after a second trial over charges of spreading anti-government propaganda in Iran.
Nazanin has always denied the charges. She was in Iran visiting her parents with her then-newborn daughter Gabriella when she was arrested.
In March she completed a five-year sentence.
This comes a week after the latest High Court hearing into the debt Britain owes Iran - which has frequently been cited to Nazanin as a reason behind her continuing detention - was postponed again.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement: “This is a totally inhumane and wholly unjustified decision.
“We continue to call on Iran to release Nazanin immediately so she can return to her family in the UK. We continue to do all we can to support her.”
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Boris Johnson said that the government will be “working very hard” to secure Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release, after the British-Iranian mother of one was sentenced to an additional year in prison in Iran.
The Prime Minister told reporters during a visit to Wrexham: “Obviously we will have to study the detail of what the Iranian authorities are saying.
“I don’t think it is right at all that Nazanin should be sentenced to any more time in jail.
“I think it is wrong that she is there in the first place and we will be working very hard to secure her release from Iran, her ability to return to her family here in the UK, just as we work for all our dual national cases in Iran.
“The government will not stop, we will redouble our efforts, and we are working with our American friends on this issue as well.”
Nazanin's MP Tulip Siddiq added: “This is a terrible blow for Nazanin and her family, who have been hoping and praying that she would soon be free to come home.
“It is devastating to see Nazanin once again being abusively used as bargaining chip.
“We’ve been told the Government has been working behind the scenes to secure Nazanin’s release.
“These efforts have clearly failed and we deserve an urgent explanation from minsters about what has happened.”
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy also criticised the Government’s handling of the case.
The Labour MP tweeted: “This is devastating news. Nazanin’s freedom is being used as a political bargaining chip and the Government has serious questions to answer over their failed strategy to bring her home.”
Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt raised the issue of why the IMS (International Military Services) debt owed to Iran by the UK – thought to be as much as £400 million over the non-delivery of tanks in 1979 – had not been dealt with.
He said: “This is so distressing. Iran’s cruelty seems to know no bounds. Impossible to imagine what the family are going through today. Key question is why the IMS debt issue is still not settled given the UK accepts that it owes this money?”
Nazanin's lawyer Hojjat Kermani told The Associated Press that she received the second sentence on a charge of spreading “propaganda against the system” for participating in a protest in front of the Iranian Embassy in London in 2009.
State media in Iran did not immediately acknowledge the sentence.
Richard Ratcliffe told the BBC Nazanin had not yet been summoned to prison, and that this new sentence was yet another "negotiating tactic".
Human rights organisation REDRESS, who have supported Nazanin's case for many years, argued in response that Nazanin had never received a fair trial in Iran and a further jail term could cause “irreparable damage” to her health. Director Rupert Skilbeck added: “Nazanin has already suffered severe physical and psychological impacts from the torture and ill-treatment she has been subjected to during the past five years.
“A further sentence to prison or house arrest may cause irreparable damage to her health.
“Nazanin has never received a fair trial in Iran and is innocent of the allegations made against her. Her detention has always been illegal under international law.
“The case must be dismissed and she should be allowed to return to her husband and daughter in the UK immediately.”
More to follow.