Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces new charge, Iranian media reports

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The British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces a new, unspecified charge, according to a report on Iranian state TV, which also said she had appeared in court on Tuesday morning.

The report did not elaborate beyond saying Zaghari-Ratcliffe has appeared before a branch of the country’s revolutionary court in Tehran, where she was first sentenced in 2017.

The new indictment comes as Britain and Iran negotiate the release of £400m held by London, a payment the late Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi made for Chieftain tanks that were never delivered. The shah abandoned the throne in 1979 and the Islamic Revolution soon installed the clerically overseen system that endures today. Authorities in London and Tehran deny that Zaghari-Ratcliffe is linked in any way to the repayment deal.

In spring Zaghari-Ratcliffe was granted temporary release from prison due to the coronavirus pandemic after serving nearly all of her five-year sentence, raising hopes she would soon return home to Britain. She has been wearing an ankle tag that limits her movements to within 300 metres (984ft) of her parents’ home in Tehran.

Iran has been hit hard by the virus, becoming the worst-affected country in the Middle East. Since then, it has reported more than 391,000 cases and 22,542 deaths. Tens of thousands of inmates were released as Iran tried to curb the spread of the virus in its crowded prisons.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case has stirred tensions between Iran and Britain, where on Tuesday her local MP, Tulip Siddiq, tweeted confirmation that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been taken to court and would face another trial on Sunday.

“I know many people are concerned about her welfare and Ill keep everyone updated when we have more information,” Siddiq wrote.

Iran does not recognise dual nationalities, so detainees like Zaghari-Ratcliffe cannot receive consular assistance. A UN panel has described an emerging pattern involving the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of dual nationals in Iran, which Tehran denies.

Analysts and family members of dual nationals and others detained in Iran say hard-liners in the Islamic Republics security agencies use the prisoners as bargaining chips for money or influence in negotiations with the west.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was scooped up at the Tehran airport when trying to return to Britain with her toddler daughter in April 2016.

Her family insists she had travelled to Iran to visit family, vigorously denying the charges that she was plotting the soft toppling of Iran’s government. At the time, Zaghari-Ratcliffe worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency.

Source » theguardian

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