Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe told to 'pack bag for prison' ahead of fresh court case in Iran

28 October 2020, 16:39 | Updated: 28 October 2020, 16:49

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran since 2016 when she was sentenced to five years in prison on syping charges/
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran since 2016 when she was sentenced to five years in prison on syping charges/. Picture: Getty

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says she is "so desperate" and "dying of this stress", as her family announced the British-Iranian mother is expected to be returned to prison in Iran on Monday.

The 42-year-old has been summoned to court and been told to pack a bag as she will be returned to prison following the hearing, her family say.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran since 2016 when she was sentenced to five years in prison on syping charges, which she denies.

She was later afforded diplomatic protection by the UK Government, which argues that she is innocent and that her treatment by Iran failed to meet obligations under international law.

The mother-of-one was released from prison in March as Iran sought to stop a rapidly growing coronavirus outbreak seeding in jails, and has since been living with family in Tehran under house arrest.

However, on Wednesday her husband Richard Ratcliffe said in a statement: "We don't know what will happen on Monday, we don't know how far and how soon they will take forward their prison threat.

"But we do know that the Revolutionary Guard are signalling something to the British government. We also know they are signalling this could have a long time still to run.”

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s local MP, Tulip Siddiq, said the timing of the trial raised "serious concerns" as she said it follows the postponement of a court hearing about the UK's historic debt to Iran.

The MP for Hampstead and Kilburn said in a statement: "Nazanin has once again been treated with utter contempt and I am extremely concerned about her future and wellbeing.

"The fact that she has been told to pack a bag for prison ahead of her court hearing doesn't fill me with confidence that this will be anything close to a fair trial.

"The timing of this development alongside the postponement of the court hearing about the UK's historic debt to Iran raises serious concerns.

Ms Siddiq added: "I can only hope that there is work going on behind the scenes to resolve the debt quickly because we seem to be going in completely the wrong direction and Nazanin, as ever, is paying the price.”

The debt relates to a payment of £400 million the late Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi made for 1,750 Chieftain tanks, which were never delivered after the 1979 Islamic Revolution toppled the leader.

Tehran has denied that her detention was linked to the negotiations.

Mr Ratcliffe said he had a number of "difficult" calls with his wife following the summons while she raised concerns she was "paying the price" for the debt case being postponed.

She told her husband on Wednesday: "It's me paying the price. What am I supposed to do? Just pack a bag and accept I'll be going back?

"I am so desperate. Promise I won't go back. I am dying of this stress - of being taken back.

"I can't stop thinking about it. I am almost paralysed. I envy everyone that is free."

Mr Ratcliffe said he had spoken with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday, asking him to formally assert the UK's right to consular access in visiting Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and attending the trial.

"As Nazanin's husband, I do think that if she's not home for Christmas, there's every chance this could run for years," he added.

"I really hope there's something we're not being told, as on the face of it the Government's response seems disastrous, just extraordinary that they won't change course."

LBC has contacted the Foreign Office for comment.