“Urgent intervention” is needed to secure the release of British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, her husband said after making a special request to the UN to free her from a Tehran prison.
Richard Ratcliffe said it was inevitable his wife would face an “autumn in court” unless the UK and other countries condemned hostage-taking as a crime, The Independent reported.
According to Iranian media, the regime had this week canceled plans to free Iranian-British prisoners, including Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been detained for five years.
The 43-year-old project manager for the Thompson Reuters Foundation was first jailed on a visit to Iran in 2016 after being found guilty by the regime of “plotting to topple the Iranian government,” a charge she denied.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to a further year in prison after being found guilty of propaganda against the government in April.
A turn for the worst
Her husband said that this week’s events including an attack on an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman that killed a British citizen signal a turn for the worst.
The attack is widely believed to have been carried out by the Iranian government, which has denied any involvement.
“We have been relatively quiet these past months, waiting and hoping that the government’s negotiations with Iran would finally deliver,” he said.
“But this week’s events – Iran’s announcements that hostage negotiations are again on hold, and the attacks on shipping that resulted in two lost lives – were a signal that things have again turned for the worse with the change of government in Iran.”
Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s new president, took office just 24 hours before the request to the UN.
Iran and the UK are in discussions over a $555 million (£400 million) debt that the UK owes for failing to deliver tanks the previous regime purchased in the 1970s. The government claims that the talks are not linked to her detention.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband says he met foreign secretary Dominic Raab this week, who insisted that the negotiations had come close and that he was determined not to leave any British citizens behind.
“I told him I feared the tide had turned, and that a summer of drift would become an autumn in court,” Ratcliffe said.
“I see that now as inevitable, unless the UK and the international community takes a much firmer stand against state hostage-taking and calls it out as a crime.”
An “urgent action request and individual complaint” has been filed on Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s behalf asking the UN to discuss the case with both governments through its arbitrary detention working group.
Iran’s revolutionary court is also due to hear an appeal against her second conviction.