Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces another trial in Iran

8 September 2020, 13:14 | Updated: 8 September 2020, 18:58

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is reportedly facing a new charge shortly before she was due to be released
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is reportedly facing a new charge shortly before she was due to be released. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has appeared in court in Iran and has been told she will face another trial on Sunday, an MP has said.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been released from prison due to the coronavirus pandemic after serving nearly all of her five-year sentence but remains under house arrest in Tehran.

Iran's state TV reported on Tuesday that the British-Iranian dual national was facing a new charge, citing an unnamed official.

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq said she had spoken to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, confirming that she had appeared in court on Tuesday morning.

Read more: Zaghari-Ratcliffe's lawyers call on government to 'stand up against abusive treatment'

Read more: Zaghari-Ratcliffe's wait over pardon set to continue amid hope of good news

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport while travelling to see her parents with her young daughter, Gabriella, in April 2016.

She was sentenced to five years in prison over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Tehran government.

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.

Ms Siddiq tweeted on Tuesday: "I've been in touch with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and can confirm that she was taken to court this morning and told she will face another trial on Sunday.

"I know many people are concerned about her welfare and I'll keep everyone updated when we have more information #FreeNazanin."

The Hampstead and Kilburn MP also said: "This is an extremely worrying development, and I know many people are concerned about Nazanin's welfare.

"The last four years have been excruciating for her husband Richard and her daughter Gabriella, who is growing up without a mother.

"The United Nations have recognised Nazanin's imprisonment as arbitrary and unlawful, and any further court case is clearly unacceptable."

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency.

The new charge comes after Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's family linked her detention to Iran's negotiations with the British Government over a £400 million settlement held by London, a payment the late Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi made for Chieftain tanks that were never delivered.

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

It is thought the new charges could be an attempt to gain new leverage in the negotiations.

Lawyers for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had previously asked Defence Secretary Ben Wallace for a meeting and called on the UK Government to stand up to Iran for its "abusive treatment" of the jailed mother of one.

The British-Iranian dual national is said to be in a perpetual state of anxiety.

Following her arrest, 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.

She has been used as a political pawn, according to Nobel Laureate and Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, and civil rights groups like Amnesty International say her trial was unfair and she was jailed with no evidence.