Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been jailed for 12 months in prison in Iran. According to BBC News, 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' Her lawyer said she was accused of taking part in a protest in London 12 years ago and speaking to the BBC Persian Service. The British-Iranian charity worker was first jailed in Tehran in 2016
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. According to CNN, Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her employer, ‘the Thomson Reuters Foundation, have repeatedly denied the espionage charges against her’ after she was accused of working to overthrow the regime in Iran.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was given British diplomatic protection in 2019 and has been designated a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. She has undertaken at least three hunger strikes during her detention. Last February, her family said she believed that she had contracted COVID-19 in Evin prison outside Tehran.
British prime minister, Boris Johnson, said that ‘I don’t think it is right at all that Nazanin should be sentenced to any more time in jail’. He added 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 the issue as well’.
British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab called the latest sentence ‘totally inhumane and wholly unjustified’ on Twitter. However, Labour MP, Tulip Siddiq, who is an MP for the constituency of the family has said that ‘they had been ‘hoping and praying’ she would soon be free but instead she was ‘being abusively used as a bargaining chip’. She also said that the UK government’s efforts, behind the scenes to secure her release had ‘clearly failed’. In the past, the EU has supported Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Biden recently reiterated his support for Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
It appears that the arrest of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being used for political gain. Geopolitical issues between Britain and Iran, as stated by Richard Ratcliffe is definitely a possible reason for the arrest of Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her subsequent prison sentence. It is highly unlikely that these espionage charges are true. There have been calls for firmer action to be taken by all countries around the world to help with the release Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Economic sanctions have been suggested by some parties and may prove to be effective in leu of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. It remains to be seen whether Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe continues to serve the 12 months sentence, and whether she will remain in Iran. This most recent detention has placed further scrutiny on Iran.