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Nazanin’s ‘mental torture’ continues as she is sent home from court before trial begins

PUBLISHED: 11:08 02 November 2020 | UPDATED: 16:18 02 November 2020

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe bakes while under house arrest in Autumn 2020. Picture: Free Nazanin

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe bakes while under house arrest in Autumn 2020. Picture: Free Nazanin

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has not been sent back to prison today – but her ordeal at the hands of Iranian authorities continues after the trial set for this morning was adjourned before she could give a defence.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe when she was released from prison on furlough. Picture: Free NazaninNazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe when she was released from prison on furlough. Picture: Free Nazanin

The West Hampstead mum has now returned to house arrest at her parents’ Tehran home, but local MP Tulip Siddiq has slammed the “mental torture” of Nazanin being repeatedly threatened with prison.

Tulip said she understood there were no UK representatives at the court for the hearing – this was demanded by Nazanin’s family, the MP herself, and human rights groups like Amnesty International UK and REDRESS.

There is not currently a new date for the case to be heard.

Richard Ratcliffe said Nazanin had been able to answer questions from the judge in her case – Abolqasem Salavati – but that he cut the hearing short before allowing her defence to begin.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been in prison since 2016. Picture: Family of Nazanin Zaghari-RatcliffeNazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been in prison since 2016. Picture: Family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

READ MORE: Nazanin ‘paying the price’ as she is summoned to face hearing over second set of charges

Nazanin was transported to court by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who again told her she’d be returning to prison, but this was not the case.

Richard said: “While the UK Embassy was not in attendance at the trial, and we think should have pushed harder, we regard the strong words of the foreign secretary last week as having sent a clear message to the Iranian authorities not to return her to prison.

“This is a good first step, but it is not enough. The use of the court process as a negotiating tactic by the Revolutionary Guard remains deeply traumatic for Nazanin and the rest of us. We await the next escalation. We do not expect it to be kind.”

After Nazanin received this new summons on October, Dominic Raab summoned the Iranian ambassador to the UK – Hamid Baeidinijad – and warned him that the “unjustified and unacceptable” second trial was tarnishing Iran’s international reputation.

Gabriella Ratcliffe blowing bubbles, while her mum Nazanin remains in Iran under house arrest. Picture: Free NazaninGabriella Ratcliffe blowing bubbles, while her mum Nazanin remains in Iran under house arrest. Picture: Free Nazanin

Richard said Nazanin had said: “Every time I started to pack, I got butterflies in my stomach, feeling sick in my stomach. I needed someone to tell me it is just my fear. And that I won’t disappear into air, behind those walls.”

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“I was thinking to myself last night that I still feel so many bumps and blockages in the way to getting to hold my baby again. It still doesn’t seem that easy, or that close. It is extraordinary that we are still in such a status four years and eight months on. It has been bumps for so long.”

Tulip Siddiq said: “I just spoke to Nazanin’s family, who told me that her trial has been adjourned before she could put forward a defence and that she is now back at her parent’s house in Iran.

“There were no UK officials at Nazanin’s trial, despite our repeated requests for our Government to assert the UK’s right to consular access. This simply isn’t good enough.

“It is hard to imagine the mental torture that being repeatedly threatened with a return to prison causes, and this awful situation is now being dragged out once again.”

She again urged the UK foreign office to “step up” its efforts to free Nazanin and other dual-nationals held hostage in Iran.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “It is appalling that Iran has begun a new case against Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and have threatened her with being returned to prison. The Iranian authorities have put an intolerable burden on Nazanin and her family.

“I am relieved she remains on temporary release, but she needs to be returned home to her family. We continue to make this clear in the strongest terms.”

He did not address concerns about UK attendance at Nazanin’s trial.

Amnesty International UK’s director Kate Allen added: “We said last week that this second trial was set to be a judicial farce and that’s exactly what appears to be unfolding.

“These cruel games must end. Nazanin has already been convicted once after a grossly unfair trial before a Revolutionary Court.

“Once again, we call on the UK government to pull out all the stops to pressure the Iranian authorities into ending this charade.

“The UK government should also press hard for the release of other jailed UK dual-nationals, including the retired engineer Anoosheh Ashoori.”


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