Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Hampstead mum loses final appeal against imprisonment in Iran

Chloe Chaplain
Family: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabriella last year

A British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran for allegedly plotting to topple the government has lost the final stage of her appeal against the sentence, her family said.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, from Hampstead, north London, was arrested at Tehran Airport on April 3 while visiting family in Iran with daughter Gabriella.

The 38-year-old was imprisoned for five years last September and lost an appeal against her sentence in January but maintains her innocence.

She appealed to Iran's Supreme Court where her sentence was upheld, and has been told there are no more legal avenues available, her husband Richard Ratcliffe said.

Appeal: Nazanin has lost her final chance to have the sentence overruled (PA)

Speaking from the UK, Mr Ratcliffe vowed to continue putting pressure on the British Government, saying: "The solution now is political."

He told the Press Association: "If we got to a year and she wasn't out I (said I) was going to start pushing again.

"We've had a year, the legal process is finished, so I think the Government needs to step up, find a way to visit her, say that she's innocent and call for her release publicly."

Campaign: Richard Ratcliffe poses for the media during an Amnesty International led vigil outside the Iranian Embassy in London (AP)

He added in a separate statement: "As her husband, I can say Nazanin is innocent until I am blue in the face. I have spent a year doing it. But it makes a clear difference that the government hasn't. It indulges the whispers."

Following a spell in solitary confinement Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was moved to the women's ward of Evin prison in Tehran on Boxing Day, her husband said.

There she is able to chat and eat with fellow prisoners, and also been receiving visits from her daughter - recently as frequently as twice a week - he added.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabriella. (AFP/Getty Images)

But she has ongoing problems with her neck, shoulder and back, and a neurologist she was allowed to see in February recommended she be hospitalised to prevent any permanent damage being caused.

She has also been prescribed medication to help her sleep which has helped with the panic attacks she had been experiencing, he said.

The 42-year-old said the family were not surprised that the appeal had failed and that his wife was feeling "angry" but "determined".

Nazanin and Richard on their wedding day in 2009 (Azadeh Fatehrad)

She was informed of the Supreme Court decision by her family, after discovering the results of her first appeal from the media.

It is believed her lawyer has seen a copy of the charges against her but that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has not.

The charity worker is now seeking a meeting with the British Ambassador who she wants to deliver a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May.

Jailed: Nazanin and Richard with Gabriella

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "We are deeply concerned by reports that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's Supreme Court appeal has been rejected, while Iran continues to refuse the UK access to her.

"The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have both raised Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case with their counterparts in Iran.

“The minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood, has spoken to his opposite number repeatedly to express our concern.

"We have been supporting Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's family since we were first made aware of her arrest.

“Mr Ellwood has met her husband in London and her family in Tehran to assure them that we will continue to do all we can for her.

"We continue to press the Iranians for access and for due process to be followed, and are ready to help get her daughter back safely to the UK if requested."

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said the decision was "bitterly disappointing" for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

She said: "Lest we forget, Nazanin is a prisoner of conscience who shouldn't be behind bars at all, never mind for five years.

"It's now vitally important that the UK Government start doing far more on Nazanin's case.

"Ministers have got to step up and demand that Nazanin is released.

"Pending her release, Nazanin should also be given much-needed medical treatment outside the prison she's being kept in."

Additional reporting from Press Association.