Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe campaigners call for sanctions against 10 Iranian officials

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Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, was arrested in 2016 (PA)
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, was arrested in 2016 (PA)

Campaigners for jailed Briton Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe have urged the government to urgently impose sanctions on 10 Iranians for their role in taking hostages.

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, called on the Foreign Office to institute travel bans and asset freezes – the first time the campaign has asked for individual Iranians to be sanctioned.

Mr Ratcliffe said he had given the list of 10 names of people he accuses of being involved with “hostage-taking” in Iran to the new foreign secretary, Liz Truss, ahead of a phone call with her on Sunday.

Speaking on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, he said: “We’ve put in front of the new Foreign Secretary a file of names, those who are involved in Iran’s hostage-taking across the chain, so those involved in taking people, processing them, giving them judges, those who are involved in treating them badly in prison.

“We’ve given 10 names, that’s the first list, we’ll do a series of them, and really part of that is to say to Iran quite clearly this is an unacceptable practice, this is hostage-taking, it’s not just an unfair imprisonment and for it to be a disincentive.

“One of the key problems I feel these past years is there’s been no cost for the Iranian side to carry on holding Nazanin, to carry on holding others, and so we’ve seen that now there are more British citizens in prison than there were when Nazanin was first taken.”

He added that he did not want to see “broad-brush sanctions” or “collective punishment-type sanctions” and said his wife’s release from custody should be a “top priority” for Ms Truss.

He said: “I’ve got a phone call with the Foreign Secretary today, to be speaking to her two days into the job is a positive sign for sure.

“Partly I just want to hear that this is a top priority and that Nazanin and the others who are being held as bargaining chips will be brought home.

“This coming week she (Truss) should be meeting with the new Iranian foreign minister in New York when they’re over for the UN event, so hopefully there will be a positive conversation.

“Right now I think enough needs to be enough, and it needs to be signalled really clearly to Iran that you can’t use innocent people in this way. I’d really like them to be firm, to be brave and make some clear steps.”

The campaign’s fresh demands come as Ms Truss is due to meet the Iranian foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, at the UN in New York this week.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, was arrested in 2016 and is currently refused permission to leave Tehran even though she has completed her initial five-year sentence for allegations of “spreading propaganda against the regime”.

Her family have reportedly been told by Iranian authorities that she is being detained because of the UK’s failure to pay an outstanding £400 million debt to Iran.

Thursday will mark her 2,000th day of detention.

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