Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe told to 'pack a bag for prison' her husband says ahead of fresh court case in Iran

Sophia Sleigh
·3-min read

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been told to “pack a bag for prison” ahead of a fresh court case on Monday, her husband has said.

The 42-year-old mother-of-one has been detained in Iran since 2016 but was moved to house arrest in March as she neared the end of a five-year sentence.

However, she was picked up by Iranian Revolutionary Guards last month and told she was facing a second trial.

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said that yesterday afternoon she was suddenly visited by two guards who told her that she will be up in court on Monday.

Mr Ratcliffe added: “She was told to pack a bag for prison and bring it with her when the [Iranian Revolutionary Guards] pick her up, since that is where she will be going after court.”

Richard Ratcliffe, with their daughter Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe hours after she returned to the UK. (PA)
Richard Ratcliffe, with their daughter Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe hours after she returned to the UK. (PA)

Her MP Tulip Siddiq is calling on the government to demand that UK officials can attend the latest trial.

The MP for Hampstead and Kilburn said: “Nazanin has once again been treated with utter contempt, and I am extremely concerned about her future and wellbeing.

“The fact that she has been told to pack a bag for prison ahead of her court hearing doesn’t fill me with confidence that this will be anything close to a fair trial.”

Ms Siddiq said it comes as a court hearing between the UK and Iran over a historic £400 million debt that was due to take place next Tuesday was postponed until April 2021.

It has been claimed Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held in order to force the UK into settling the dispute.

Her MP Tulip Siddiq says Nazanin has been treated with
Her MP Tulip Siddiq says Nazanin has been treated with

Ms Siddiq added: “The timing of this development alongside the postponement of the court hearing about the UK’s historic debt to Iran raises serious concerns.

“I can only hope that there is work going on behind the scenes to resolve the debt quickly because we seem to be going in completely the wrong direction and Nazanin, as ever, is paying the price.”

Mr Ratcliffe said he spoke to the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday and stressed the importance of the UK asserting its right to attend the new trial and visit Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

He claimed Mr Raab reassured him that the UK’s diplomatic push is ongoing, and that despite recent events, the government still does not judge it time to change strategy.

Mr Ratcliffe added: “We disagreed on this. Seclusion of the victim, with bouts of conspicuous cruelty in the face of decisions to wait, are key pillars of hostage taking.

“Both must be challenged robustly if British citizens are going to be protected from hostage diplomacy by Iran or others.

“As Nazanin’s husband, I do think that if she’s not home for Christmas, there’s every chance this could run for years.

“So I really hope there’s something we’re not being told, as on the face of it the government’s response seems disastrous, just extraordinary that they won’t change course.”

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said:“This latest recall to court is an unwarranted, unjustified and unacceptable decision, which is causing enormous distress to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family. It further tarnishes Iran's reputation. Iran must end the arbitrary detention of all the dual British nationals in its detention, and allow them to return home."

Read more

Release Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe for good, Downing Street urges

‘Groundless’ trial for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe postponed

Sending Nazanin back to prison would be 'inhumane', warns No 10