Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian aid worker imprisoned in Iran, has lost an appeal against her sentence of five years, according to a report by the United Kingdom-based Press TV.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager at Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport in April 2016 after visiting her parents in Iran to celebrate her daughter’s fourth birthday. She was convicted of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government, an accusation she denies. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family and friends in Britain say the charges are political and the judicial process against her is unfair.
Last December, her family announced she was eligible for conditional release, but her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, who was joined by her daughter Gabriella, traveled to Tehran to discuss possible release with Iranian authorities. Iranian authorities told her father that she would be released, but she was held until March when she was given a five-year prison sentence that was reduced from seven by Iran’s supreme court. While her husband told the court she was refusing to sign the execution order, she still faced the additional charges of spying and participating in a “riot.”
While Zaghari-Ratcliffe did receive the lengthier sentence, her husband says the new term, which was imposed on top of her five-year prison sentence, is still “extremely unfair, especially as the court ordered it to be shortened,” according to a statement from the family. Her daughter Gabriella has reportedly had difficulty adjusting to life in prison.
“After 23 months, we have now lost hope at least for now. I am horrified and very angry about this miscarriage of justice for Nazanin,” Ratcliffe’s father said in a statement. “It was very hard to accept. In the end, Nazanin and Gabriella just want to be able to come home as a family with freedom of movement in order to grow into adults.”
In May, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called on the Iranian government to release Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an appeal his government denies.
“Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in an unjust prison in Tehran, and it is now time for Iran to follow the UK’s lead in releasing Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and others like her,” Hunt said in May. “If Iran wants to see the day where our two countries are cooperating on negotiations that create prosperity and security for both nations it is essential they free Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.”
Following her release from prison, Zaghari-Ratcliffe stayed with family members while waiting for further news on her return home. “My daughter Gabriella and I, we waited for three weeks to hear if Nazanin would be allowed to go home,” Richard Ratcliffe said. “There was a certain level of satisfaction that finally, an Iranian court had ruled in Nazanin’s favor and delayed her execution. But those hopes were dashed. Nazanin has been detained ever since. The decision has left my wife and daughter grief-stricken. Gabriella is devastated and very sad. She misses her mum.”
Sources: Press TV, Reuters / Photo credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation