Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe attends appeals court in Tehran
Thursday 5 January 2017
Thomson Reuters Foundation worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe attended an appeals court in Tehran and a verdict on her challenge against a five-year jail term is expected next week.
It is her last legal opportunity to appeal against her sentence last September for unspecified charges relating to Iranian national security.
Wednesday’s court session in the Iranian capital lasted up to three hours, her husband Richard said. Few details have emerged about the hearing but a verdict is expected to be announced next week.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 38, was arrested in April as she was about to fly home to London after visiting her parents. Her daughter Gabriella, now two, was prevented from leaving the country and remains in the care of the child’s Iranian grandparents.
Revolutionary Guards who detained her at the airport accused her of fomenting a “soft overthrow” of the Islamic republic.
“What I know is that the appeals happened and went on for three hours, the family weren’t able to go but Nazanin was there and her lawyer was there,” Richard Ratcliffe told The Guardian. “There were lots of revolutionary guards there from both Kerman’s branch and the Tehran branch.”
After her arrest, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was initially transferred to the southern city of Kerman, where she was held for several weeks before being taken to Evin prison in Tehran.
“The lawyer sounded quite calm on the phone, Nazanin’s family are not calm,” Ratcliffe said. “It’s very hard to read what any of it would mean but [with] lots of people [having] turned up from Kerman, I guess it means that there would be a thorough review of what the case is - three hours is as long as the original trial. But in terms of whether it means it is a positive thing or a negative, it’s hard to read at this point. I’m certainly not hopeful, but am trying not to be too bleak.”
According to Amnesty International, Iranian authorities have hinted that Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s arrest is connected to the 2014 imprisonment of several employees of an Iranian technology news website. They were given lengthy prison terms for participating in a BBC journalism training course. Before joining the Foundation, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was a project assistant at Media Action, the broadcaster’s international development charity, in 2008-09.
Ratcliffe said he last spoke to his wife on Christmas Day. Previously described as being at breaking point, she has recently been removed from solitary confinement and taken to Evin’s women’s wards alongside other political prisoners.
“She’d just had a family visit on that day and she had a birthday cake because her birthday is on Boxing Day, and she was also just being told that she was going to be moved to general cells, so her mood was a little bit more positive,” he said. “There was some fight in her.” ■
- The Guardian