Uncertainty ‘part of abuse’ as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces court hearing

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife will report to court at 9am Iranian time.

Uncertainty ‘part of abuse’ as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces court hearing

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said the uncertainty of his wife’s position is “part of the abuse” as she returns to court after a five-year prison sentence.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained in 2016 as Iranian authorities made widely refuted spying allegations, and finished the latter part of her sentence under house arrest due to the coronavirus crisis.

However, the British-Iranian mother-of-one will return to court on Sunday where she may face more charges in the case, which some observers have linked to a long-standing debt Iran alleges it is owed by the UK.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe detained
Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Ian West/PA)

He said the trial may be a continuation of a charge of spreading propaganda against the regime from November.

He told the PA news agency: “In the grand scheme of things she will be taken to court and a judge will decide what happens, he might not decide tomorrow, we don’t know at this stage whether it’s a short trial or a long trial, and if it’s a hefty set of accusations coming or what happened last time.”

He added: “There’s jeopardy ahead of us in terms of what’s about to happen, we don’t know if it’s a big bad thing, a little bad thing or an uncertain thing that’s going to be dragged out for quite a while.”

The case will be heard in the Revolutionary Court, in front of the same judge who conducted Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s earlier hearings.

Mr Ratcliffe continued: “The Revolutionary Court is not in the business of acquitting people, it does only do convictions but it can take its time in doing that and the sentence can vary.

“I don’t think at this stage I can read whether what we’re witnessing tomorrow is a warning shot, or is essentially building a whole new justification for holding onto her for years to come.

“We don’t know what we don’t know, I think the uncertainty is part of the abuse.”

Mr Ratcliffe said the British Embassy in Iran declined to accompany his wife to Sunday’s trial, describing it as a missed opportunity to protect her and make a “profound difference” to British Iranians held in the country.

He said: “If they’d gone – it’s a bit tricky to be allowed into the courtroom because you do technically need authorisation from the other government – but they could have easily accompanied her to court and that signal that ‘we’re standing alongside her, she’s a British citizen and we’re watching you’, it’s a missed opportunity and it’s not the first time they’ve missed the opportunity to protect her.”

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said it had formally requested access to the hearing.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s court appearance comes after a detailed medical assessment, commissioned by a charity, found the mother of one has been a victim of torture, is suffering from major depression and PTSD, and requires urgent psychiatric treatment.

Human rights group Redress called on the Government to recognise her as a victim of torture following the report from the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT).

The report said Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s condition has been caused by “extremely stressful, traumatising experiences in the prisons of Iran” and the uncertainty surrounding her immediate future.

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