Tuesday , 3 August 2021

Amnesty calls on Iran to free wife of Fleet man after trial ‘travesty’

gethampshire – A human rights organisation is calling on the government to speak out on behalf of a man whose wife has been jailed in Iran in a case it claims has been ‘a complete travesty of justice throughout’.

Amnesty International has launched a petition calling on Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to publicly raise the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has reportedly been sentenced to five years in prison for unspecified ‘national security charges’.

Nazanin’s husband Richard, who spent most of his life in Fleet but now lives in London, only heard of the sentence on Friday of last week.

Amnesty International said the charges Nazanin was convicted of had still not been revealed to the family.

“Nazanin had been detained since April 3, when she was attempting to board a flight home to the UK after visiting her parents in Iran, with her two-year old daughter Gabriella,” the organisation added.

“Nazanin was arrested by officials believed to belong to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, who did not explain why they were arresting her.

“Her toddler daughter – a British national – had her UK passport confiscated (she does not have an Iranian passport) and was handed to her grandparents who had accompanied them to the airport, while Nazanin was taken away by the authorities.”

Amnesty International said Nazanin was subjected to 45 days in solitary confinement after she was arrested.

“She was denied access to a lawyer and barred from meeting her family until over a month into her detention,” it added.

“Nazanin is imprisoned in Iran. Meanwhile, little Gabriella is trapped in Iran, denied from travelling home to the UK to be with her father.”

Mr Ratcliffe was born in Aldershot and went to school in Farnham and then Salesian College in Farnborough before going on to Edinburgh University.

He met Nazanin at an anthropology lecture and the pair married in Winchester in August 2009. The wedding reception was held in his parents’ garden in Fleet.

Amnesty International said the Iranian authorities have yet to explain to Nazanin her crime.

“The closest they’ve got is an unidentified official telling the family that Nazanin is being held ‘for reasons related to national security’,” it added.

“If that’s the case, the authorities should make any allegations against Nazanin clear to her and her lawyer.

“Unless Nazanin is charged with a recognisable crime at a fair trial, the Iranian authorities must release her immediately – and return their UK passports to both Nazanin and her daughter, permitting them to travel.”

Responding to reports that Nazanin has been sentenced to five years in prison, Amnesty International UK’s Individuals at Risk Campaign Manager, Kathy Voss, said: “This is extremely depressing but probably not unexpected news.

“Iran’s Revolutionary Courts are notorious for handing down prison sentences after grossly unfair trials.

“From all the reports we’ve seen, Nazanin’s case has been a complete travesty of justice throughout – beginning with her protracted secret detention, then the unsupported accusations from officials, and culminating in the out-of-the-blue sentence.

“We’re calling on the UK government to make urgent representations on Nazanin’s case at the highest level.

“Unless it can be shown that she’s been charged with an internationally recognisable criminal offence and allowed to defend herself in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards, this conviction and sentence should be quashed and she should be freed.”

The Foreign Office said it was ‘deeply concerned’ by the reports and that Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson would continue to raise the case with their counterparts in Iran.