Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe transferred to hospital mental health ward from Iran jail

Sean Morrison

British mother jailed in Iran Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been transferred from prison to a hospital's mental health ward in Tehran, her husband has revealed.

Richard Ratcliffe said she was transferred from Evin jail to Iman Khomeini hospital’s mental ward and is being held under the control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Nazanin’s father said he visited the hospital after she was transferred but was not allowed to see his daughter. He said she has been allowed to contact her family.

The British mother was arrested at Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport while travelling with their young daughter in April 2016 and sentenced to five years in prison on a spying charge.

She vehemently denies the charge.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, holding her daughter Gabriella. (PA)

Before being transferred to the hospital on Monday, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe told relatives: "I was healthy and happy when I came to Iran to see my parents.

"Three and a bit years later and I am admitted to a mental health clinic. Look at me now, I ended up in an asylum. It should be an embarrassment.

Richard Ratcliffe during his hunger strike in solidarity with his wife (EPA)

"Prison is getting harder and harder for me. I hate being played in the middle of a political game. I just hate it.

In a press release, the Free Nazanin Campaign said it is not known what treatment she is receiving or how long she is expected to remain in hospital.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard Ratcliffe and their daughter Gabriella. (PA)

The transfer comes after Nazanin went on hunger strike for 15 days last month in protest at her "unfair imprisonment".

Mr Ratcliffe also went on hunger strike in solidarity with his wife as he camped on the pavement outside the Iranian Embassy in London.

The couple's five-year-old daughter Gabriella has stayed in Iran with her grandparents since her since her mother's arrest.

Mr Ratcliffe said: "Nazanin hoped that her hunger strike would move the Iranian authorities, and it clearly has.

"Hopefully her transfer to hospital means that she is getting treatment and care, despite my distrust of just what pressures can happen behind closed doors. It is unnerving when we don't know what is going on."

"I am glad her dad has been down there to keep vigil outside

"Mental hospital has its worries at the best of times - but particularly when kept isolated and under the control of the Revolutionary Guard."

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of the jailed UK-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, delivers a mothers day card and flowers to the Iranian Embassy (EPA)

"Even now it still seems like games of power and control are being played by the Iranian authorities - even at the point of hospitalisation.

"We hope again this is the beginning of the end. And yet, we were also here last summer.

"We will be following up with the new prime minister whenever that is decided to ensure he takes personal responsibility for Nazanin's case."

At the end of the dual hunger strike, Mr Ratcliffe said he believed the protest had been successful in raising the profile of his wife's case, with more than 100 MPs coming to show support to him in person, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Earlier this year, Foreign Secretary and Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt granted Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protection in a bid to resolve her case.

In a 2017 gaffe, Boris Johnson, his rival to become prime minister, said that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran "teaching people journalism" - despite her family's insistence she was there to visit relatives. He has repeatedly said the responsibility for her continued detention lies with the Revolutionary Guard.

Responding to the latest developments, a Foreign Office spokesman said: "The Government remains extremely concerned about the welfare of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

"We are in regular contact with Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband and our Embassy in Tehran has consistently requested consular access.

"We urge Iran to allow family members to visit and check on her care as a matter of urgency.

"We will continue to call for her release at the highest levels."

Additional reporting by PA