The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe today said she has been left an “emotional wreck” after being told she was facing another trial.
The 42-year-old mother-of-one has been detained in Iran since 2016 but was moved to house arrest in March as she nears the end of a five-year sentence.
However, she was picked up by Iranian Revolutionary Guards yesterday, returned to court and told she would face a second trial.
Her husband Richard Ratcliffe told the Standard she was “terrified” she would face more solitary confinement in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, adding: “It brought back all those nightmares.”
The Iranian-British national will face a trial this Sunday on fresh charges of spreading anti-government propaganda, Mr Ratcliffe said.
In 2016 she was sentenced to five years in prison over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Tehran government.
She has been living at her parents’ home in Tehran since thousands of prisoners were granted clemency and released from Iranian jails amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
Mr Ratcliffe said: “She returned an emotional wreck. She came back [from court] and took off all her clothes to wash them, and showered thoroughly to feel clean again.”
It has been claimed Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held in order to force the UK into settling a historic multi-million pound dispute over Chieftain tanks with Iran.
Mr Ratcliffe alleged that Iran’s decision to press fresh charges was “illegal” and that it was clear she was being “held hostage” against a UK debt.
He also accused Iran of playing “abusive games” with his wife who was being used as a “bargaining chip”.
He has begged the Government to send a representative from the British Embassy to attend her trial, adding: “If they can’t attend [they should] make sure they try damned hard.
“Getting in front of a court would significantly change what happens in that court room. Even sitting outside it would make a difference.”
The new charge was dropped in December 2017, after a visit from the then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, but reopened in May 2018.
Mr Ratcliffe said the Prime Minister had written to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe after they met in Downing Street in January.
He told Sky News: “He wrote a letter to Nazanin not that long ago, she’d knitted his new baby a woolly hat – and he wrote her a thank you letter.
“He actually said that it had really moved him, it had moved him to tears and that his Government would do all it could to get her home.”
Mr Ratcliffe said the fresh trial was a “really bad sign” for when his wife would come home and said their six-year-old daughter Gabriella had picked up on the stress of yesterday’s events.
Gabriella still cries for her mother at night, he said adding: “She has expected mummy home a number of times and she’s learnt that grownups promises are not very reliable.
“She knew mummy had a tough day yesterday. There’s a lot going on and it’s hard to make sense of it. It’s bad – but how bad? It makes it much less likely Nazanin’s about to come home. It will be a bumpy few days.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “Iran bringing new charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is indefensible and unacceptable. We have been consistently clear that she must not be returned to prison.”
Officials also confirmed they will be seeking to attend the court case.