Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was informed that Iran had opened a new case against her while already sentenced to five years imprisonment.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on October 10, 2017

After being convicted of security offences in Tehran last year and facing five years behind bars, a British-Iranian charity worker is now facing fresh “invented” charges that could see her imprisoned for almost two decades.

My life is slipping away from my hands, and I can’t do anything. I just want to come home.

The new charges

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was informed on Sunday that the Iranian government had opened a new case against her, with accusations she joined and received money from organisations looking to overthrow the Islamic Republic.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation project manager — who resides in north London — was already being detained in her country of birth after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s theocratic government in September last year.

However, husband Richard Ratcliffe, said the Revolutionary Guards (Iran’s most powerful security force) were “inventing new charges to prevent her early release”.

The former charges

She was arrested early in 2016 at Tehran (Imam Khomeini) Airport waiting to board a flight back to the UK with her now three-year-old daughter Gabriella after a family visit.

Judge Salavati of the Revolutionary court handed down the sentence a day after the UK and Iran upgraded embassy relations. At the time, Mr Ratcliffe said: “Nazanin is a kind, caring and very sociable person, a lovely and loving wife and mother, and it will be breaking her heart to be so far from her baby.”

After Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe — whose parents took custody of Gabriella when Iran confiscated their grandaughter’s passport — lost her Supreme Court appeal, Kate Allen director of Amnesty International UK implored the British government to step in and “demand that Nazanin is released”.

Foreign Office response

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have both raised Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case with their counterparts in Iran. The minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood, has spoken to his opposite number repeatedly to express our concern.

“We have been supporting Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family since we were first made aware of her arrest. Mr Ellwood has met her husband in London and her family in Tehran to assure them that we will continue to do all we can for her.

“We continue to press the Iranians for access and for due process to be followed, and are ready to help get her daughter back safely to the UK if requested.”

The woman behind the bars

Yet Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who maintains her innocence, is not only still incarcerated she is now facing the prospect of missing Gabriella’s entire childhood.

According to a family statement, she says: “I have always been honest with them about what I have done and who I worked for. I was not trying to overthrow the regime.”

“I love my country. It is ridiculous. I have not done anything since I was sentenced. I have just been a prisoner in the corner, enduring quietly. What have they done this for?

“I am so tired. Recently I thought it was the beginning of the end. But now I am back to the beginning. My life is slipping away from my hands, and I can’t do anything. I just want to come home.”