West Hampstead mum Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe loses appeal against Iranian jail sentence

The Ratcliffe Family in happy days

The Ratcliffe Family in happy days - Credit: Archant

West Hampstead mum Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe has lost her appeal and had her five year sentence in an Iranian jail upheld by an Iranian court.

Nazanin with baby Gabriella

Nazanin with baby Gabriella - Credit: Archant

West Hampstead mum Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe has lost her appeal and had her five year sentence in an Iranian jail upheld by an Iranian court.

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe has confirmed that the head of the Iranian judiciary announced the devastating news today - on the 294th day of her incarceration.

He said: “The family discovered this verdict via the media. In fact Nazanin’s parents were visiting Nazanin in Evin prison at the time of the press conference. At this visit, Nazanin did not know anything about the judgement.”

Richard, of Fortune Green Road, added: “Nazanin’s parents are in deep shock at the decision, and that this nightmare continues – despite the fact that all their daughter did was come on holiday with her baby, despite all the promises they have been told privately that this would be resolved.

As reported in the Ham&High on April 3, charity worker Nazanin - who has dual Iranian and British nationality - was arrested with Gabriella, at Tehran airport as they prepared to return home from a holiday visiting her parents.

Nazanin was thrown into jail without charge and Gabriella’s British passport was confiscated.

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The toddler is now being looked after by her Iranian grandparents.

In August Nazanin was sentenced to five years in jail with no clear charges. Her family launched an appeal which was heard by the Revolutionary Court on January 4.

Her anxious family have been waiting for the verdict since.

Richard has accused the revolutionary guard of disrupting Nazanin’s right to family visits over the last few weeks and returning all the letters of support sent to Nazanin through Amnesty International.

He said they have also been pressuring his vulnerable wife to sign a document asking them to retain Gabriella’s passport and hold it in their safekeeping to prevent the British government taking the toddler back to Britain - something Mr Ratcliffe does not intend to do as it would leave Nazanin isolated. Instead he is trying to get a visa to travel to Tehran to see his wife and daughter.

In a statement today after the appeal verdict was announced in the Iranian press, he said: “Nazanin’s lawyer has since confirmed he has been informed the sentence was upheld. He was informed today. Over the phone her lawyer has told the family that her charges are “acting against national security.”

Richard said “The appeal was held in secret, in the presence of a large number of revolutionary guards and judiciary. Neither Nazanin nor her lawyer had been allowed to tell the family what happened at her trial in the 18 days since January 4.

“The precise changes against Nazanin remain secret – with the continued vague formulation of ‘security related charges’.

However, at Nazanin’s appeal hearing, he said new information about the allegations emerged. Nazanin was accused of being the head of recruitment for BBC Farsi and of being married to a British Spy.

Richard said: “These key accusations made in the courtroom are untrue: Nazanin never was Head of Recruitment for BBC Farsi, Nazanin is not married to a British Spy.

The appeal verdict comes just days after minister for the Middle East,Tobias Ellwood, visited Iran on January 18 for talks and after Richard wrote a personal plea to Iranian president Rouhani to free Nazanin.

Richard said: “The lack of justice in Nazanin’s case continues to be a stain on Iran. The continued attempt to frame Nazanin behind secrets and lies brings shame.

It is a needless waste of a mother and child’s life for their own political bargains and economic interests.

“I had high hopes for the Minister’s visit to Iran last week, that it was a fresh chance for us, and that justice might be served.”

“And yet this ordeal continues, with all its consequences for Nazanin and Gabriella, and for all of us watching on. It is no way to toy with people’s lives. There is no way we will let it rest. Nazanin will not be forgotten.”

Since they were first arrested, the Ham&High has backed Richards constant campaigning for her release, organising a march with Hampstead mums to Downing Street in December 5. Seeour video and pictures.