Zaghari-Ratcliffe is sentenced to another year in custody in Iran

By Megan Specia

LONDON — Last month, it seemed as if Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s five-year ordeal of detention in Iran was drawing to a close when she was released from house arrest.

But Monday (26), Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British Iranian dual citizen, was handed a one-year sentence and travel ban on new charges of conducting “propaganda activities” against the Iranian government. The latest sentence, on charges that Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family have long denied, is a further attempt by Iran to use her as a political pawn, said Richard Ratcliffe, her husband.

Her lawyer was summoned to court Monday to hear the verdict, and Zaghari-Ratcliffe now has 20 days to appeal, he said. It was not immediately clear if Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is still in Iran, was sentenced to prison or a term of house arrest, but her husband said she had not yet been summoned back to jail.

“It’s clearly a game of cat and mouse, and has been for a while,” Ratcliffe said. “We are a bargaining chip, but we don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors.”

Her case has deepened a diplomatic rift between Britain and Iran and drawn international condemnation after she was first detained in Tehran’s airport in 2016 while attempting to return to her home in Britain after visiting family. She was later charged with plotting to overthrow the Iranian government and sentenced to five years in prison, before being moved to house arrest. She was released from house arrest when her sentence expired earlier this year.

She was ordered to appear in court a week later on the new charges. The latest verdict against Zaghari-Ratcliffe comes as Iran is involved in negotiations intended to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal.

Tulip Siddiq, a lawmaker who represents Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s local area, called the news a “terrible blow for Nazanin and her family, who have been hoping and praying that she would soon be free to come home.”

She added: “It is devastating to see Nazanin once again being abusively used as bargaining chip.” She also called on the British government to issue an explanation about what had gone wrong in diplomatic discussions to secure her release.

-New York Times


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