British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been sentenced to a further year in prison and a one-year travel ban after being found guilty of propaganda against the regime in Iran.
The propaganda charges stemmed after she attended a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in the UK in 2009 and spoke to the BBC Persian service, the court said.
Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was first jailed in Tehran in 2016 on spying charges, which she vehemently denied.
Confirming the latest sentence, her husband, Richard Ratcliffe said the court’s decision was a bad sign and “clearly a negotiating tactic” by the Iranian authorities – who are in the middle of discussions over the country’s nuclear activities.
Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe has not been taken to prison yet, her husband said, and plans to appeal against the sentence.
“The threat is there, and the threat is bigger than we were fearing,” Mr Ratcliffe told the BBC. Referring to the possibility of being separated from his wife until summer 2023, he said: “I think the worst case got a bit closer.”
Mr. Ratcliffe has not seen his wife in person since her imprisonment in 2016. Their daughter, Gabriella, who was with her mother in Tehran when she was arrested, has been with him in the UK since 2019.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK would “redouble” efforts to free her said that he “doesn’t think it is right at all that Nazanin should be sentenced to any more time in jail”.
He said it was “wrong that she is there in the first place” and pledged to work hard to secure her release so she could return to her family, “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,” Mr Johnson said.
Mr. Ratcliffe maintains his wife was imprisoned as leverage for a debt owed by the UK over its failure to deliver tanks to Iran in 1979.
He says the case may also be caught up in negotiations over the international agreement to limit Iran’s enrichment of nuclear material, which the UK and others are trying to revive.
The sentencing may mean that part of the Iranian regime is unhappy with the direction of the negotiations taking place in Vienna and is signalling that things can get worse for Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other jailed dual nationals, Mr. Ratcliffe said
Last year, Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was moved from prison due to the coronavirus crisis and held under house arrest in Tehran until March, when her ankle tag was removed.
But she returned to court later that month to face the latest propaganda charges.
A medical evaluation carried out for the human rights charity Redress recently found Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe had post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and obsessive stress disorder due to “traumatising experiences in the prisons of Iran” and the uncertainty about her fate.
She told doctors that, during solitary confinement at the beginning of her sentence in 2016, she was interrogated – often while blindfolded – for eight to nine hours a day.
Amnesty International UK’s director, Kate Allen, said Mrs. Zagari-Ratcliffe had twice had to face a “sham trial” in Iran. “We fear that going back to jail will be almost too much for Nazanin to bear,” she said. (Source: BBC)