British-Iranian accused of Iran sedition jailed for five years
British-Iranian accused of Iran sedition jailed for five years

British-Iranian accused of Iran sedition jailed for five years

A British charity worker in Iran has been sentenced to five years in prison after a trial in which the charges against her were not revealed.

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, called him on Friday morning to confirm the sentence for what he said was a “punishment without a crime”.

The 37-year-old charity worker from London was arrested at Imam Khomeini airport on April 3 and has since been accused of plotting to topple the Iranian regime.

She was arrested as she tried to return to Britain after a holiday visiting family with her daughter Gabriella.

Prime Minister Theresa May last month made a personal appeal to the Iranian president to resolve the case in a telephone call, while a petition for her release has been signed by more than 800,000 people.

Mr Ratcliffe told ITV London his wife had descended into a desperate state while being imprisoned and had told him “I can’t go on”.

He said she had suffered dangerous weight loss, lost some of her hair and became virtually unable to walk since being arrested.

Mr Ratcliffe said a security guard told his wife she was facing “national security charges” – but said she had not been made aware of anything formally.

The five-year sentence was apparently handed down by Judge Salavati of the Revolutionary Court on Tuesday, the day after the UK and Iran upgraded Embassy relations.

Mr Ratcliffe said the timing showed his wife and daughter were being held “as a political bargaining chip for internal and international politics”.

“The fact that she was sentenced with unrecognisable charges the day after the UK Embassy was upgraded, makes this all the clearer,” he added.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s daughter, who celebrated her second birthday in June without her mother or father, is being cared for by her grandparents in Tehran who speak little English.

Family have asked Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s lawyer to appeal against the decision. No date for the appeal has yet been set.

The Foreign Office said it was “deeply concerned” by reports of her sentencing without charges.


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