Iran urges UK to avoid "politicising" British-Iranian aid worker's case

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Richard Ratcliffe protests outside Iranian Embassy in London

(Reuters) - Iran urged Britain on Monday to avoid "politicising" the legal process against British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliff, who faces a new charge of "propaganda against the system."

Zaghari-Ratcliffe appeared in court on Sunday, one week after completing a five-year jail sentence on charges of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment which she denied.

Her lawyer said he expected a verdict on the new charge within the next week.

"The best thing to help cases such as these is to avoid politicising them," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a news conference.

"I advise the British government … to allow this case to go through its judicial process."

British foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday it was unacceptable that Iran was pursuing a second case against Zaghari-Ratcliffe and that she had been "put through a cruel and disgraceful ordeal by the calculating behaviour of the Iranian government."

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a charity that operates independently of media firm Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters. She was arrested in April 2016.

Antonio Zappulla, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, said the second trial was a deliberate move to prolong her ordeal and her suffering.

Having served out most of her five-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison, she was released last March during the coronavirus pandemic and kept under house arrest until March 7 this year. Authorities removed her ankle tag but immediately summoned her to court on the new charge.

Iranian media reported that during a call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani raised the issue of a historical debt of 400 million pounds ($558 million) which Tehran says Britain owes the Islamic Republic in capital and interest for a 1970s arms deal with the then-Shah of Iran.

($1 = 0.7174 pounds)

(dubai.newsroom@thomsonreuters.com, editing by Timothy Heritage)