An appeal court in Iran has upheld the verdict and one-year prison sentence of British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, held on ambiguous charges.
The project manager for the Thomson-Reuters Foundation has also been barred from leaving Iran for a year, Hojjat Kermani, Zaghari-Ratcliffe's attorney, told Emtedad news Saturday.
In March Zaghari-Ratcliffe completed a previous five-year sentence, with eight months in solitary confinement, but a second trial convicted her of further charges, which related to
a protest at the Iranian embassy in London in 2009, which was judged punishable under the Iranian Penal Code.
“It seems that every time we dare to hope that Nazanin might soon be free, there is another dreadful setback that puts freedom out of sight," Zaghari-Ratcliffe's member of parliament in Britain Tulip Siddiq tweeted Saturday. "She could now be returned to prison at any time.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 while visiting her family in Iran and convicted on espionage charges without due process of law.
Security charges in Iran are tried in closed-door courts, usually with limited representation. Her husband Richard Ratcliffe has repeatedly alleged that that Iran has taken his wife as a bargaining chip to encourage the British government to repay £400 million ($550 million) owed to Iran for Chieftain tanks that Tehran paid for in the 1970s but never received.
In September 2020, United Kingdom Defence Secretary Ben Wallace acknowledged the debt in a letter to lawyers representing Zaghari-Ratcliffe and relatives of ,dual nationals held in Iran. Wallace said he was seeking to make arrangements for repaying it.
“Iran conducts its diplomatic business through hostage-taking, in part because it is cost-free,” Richard Ratcliffe was quoted by the Guardian newspaper as saying on September 19. “British citizens will not be protected from hostage-taking by words and soundbites, but by actions that cause the perpetrators to reassess their calculations and consider the personal costs – for their role in what is a serial organized crime,”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been under house arrest at her parents' house in Tehran since March 2020 when she was given furlough from prison due to the Covid pandemic. Two forensic specialists produced a report in February 2021 after examining Zaghari-Ratcliffe by video-link that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder due to her treatment in prison, house arrest, uncertainty, and separation from her family.