British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe facing new charges

British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe facing new charges

A British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran is facing fresh charges, despite having been in prison in the country for over two years.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is from London, is currently serving a five-year sentence in Tehran's Evin prison, having been convicted of spying. Now, her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, says that she has been told to "expect a conviction" over a further charge of spreading propaganda.

Mr Ratcliffe said that his wife denied the new charges against her.

It is believed that the evidence to be used for this new charge is the same as that which saw her convicted in her previous trial: "While she was not allowed to read it in detail, from that quick view she understood she was being prosecuted again with the same material that had been exaggerated and used to justify her first trial", Mr Ratcliffe said.

It is also understood that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe had no lawyer present at her latest court session, as the judge had dismissed him.

The 39-year-old dual citizen was originally detained at Tehran's main international airport in April 2016, when attempting to leave the country after visiting her family for Iranian New Year. She was travelling with her infant daughter, Gabriella, who is now being cared for by her maternal grandparents, so that she can visit her mother in prison.

A project manager with the charitable foundation of the news agency Thomson Reuters, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was originally accused of trying to overthrow the Islamic Republic by running “a BBC Persian online journalism course”. She has always denied the claims, and said that she was in the country only because she wanted to introduce her daughter to her parents.

During her latest court appearance, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe reportedly pleaded for clemency, begging the judge to allow her to return to the UK and resume her family life. According to The Free Nazanin Campaign, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe told the judge: "[Gabriella] hasn't seen her father for over two years now."

She also added: "I have been a good prisoner for the sake of my baby, and I would ask the judge to close this new case and give me parole - so that I can go home and have another baby and have a normal life."

Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Theresa May implored Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to release the mother-of-one on humanitarian grounds. The request followed British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's attempts to raise the issue with the Iranian ambassador to the UK, and the United Nations repeatedly calling for her release.