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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband hits out at government handling of case


The husband of jailed British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe last night criticised the government’s handling of his wife’s case after it was revealed she had lost her appeal against a second jail sentence in Iran.

Richard Ratcliffe accused the government of failing to deal with problems “until they become crises”.

His wife was jailed for five years in 2016 after being accused of plotting against the regime. After her release earlier this year, she was charged and sentenced to another year allegedly for spreading propaganda.

Following the failure of her appeal in the propaganda case, Zaghari-Ratcliffe can be sent back to prison at any time.

Her husband said his wife was “traumatised at the thought of having to go back to jail”.

The foreign secretary, Liz Truss, described the loss of the appeal as an “appalling continuation of the cruel ordeal she is going through. Instead of threatening to return Nazanin to prison, Iran must release her permanently so she can return home to her young daughter and family. We are doing all we can to help Nazanin get home … and I will continue to press Iran.”

Ratcliffe said he had warned the Foreign Office at a meeting on Friday because he was concerned about the appeal. “The longer we wait, the more chance of bad news. I didn’t expect the next day to get bad news, but we did.”

He said those campaigning on behalf of his wife had called for the prime minister, Boris Johnson, to raise the matter with the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, should he accept an invitation to the Cop26 climate change summit. Ratcliffe said Truss spoke to his wife on Saturday. He said he believed the appeal loss would now “focus” UK minds, as she was now “in harm’s way”.

“Technically, she’s now just waiting for the phone call, saying, ‘Turn up at this prison on this day’. There’s a sword hanging over us now, it will at some point fall. It’s clearly a signal that the ball’s in the government’s court to do something.”

He believes she is being held hostage over a longstanding debt of £400m the UK owes Iran for a cancelled tank deal.

Earlier, the Labour MP Tulip Siddiq said Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s sentence of one year plus a one-year travel ban had been “upheld with no court hearing”.

The MP for Hampstead and Kilburn urged Boris Johnson to intervene in the case.

Siddiq tweeted on Saturday: “Just spoke to my constituent Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard. Nazanin has lost her latest appeal and her sentence of 1 year plus 1 year travel ban is upheld with no court hearing. She could now be returned to prison at any time. The PM must act now to #FreeNazanin.”

She said: “This is yet another piece of devastating news for my constituent, her family and the millions around the world who care about her. For Nazanin to face a return to prison after the ordeal she’s been through is nothing short of a catastrophe.

“It seems that every time we dare to hope that Nazanin might soon be free, there is another dreadful setback that puts freedom out of sight. Whatever the prime minister has been doing to free Nazanin is clearly not working.

“It’s time for the UK government to pay the debt we owe to Iran, stand up to their despicable hostage-taking and finally get Nazanin home.”

The Foreign Office has been contacted for comment.



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