London: relatives to hand in petitions calling for release of family members jailed in Iran

Kamal Foroughi with one of his grandchildren © Private
Activists will carry ‘Free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’ and ‘Free Kamal Foroughi’ placards
 
‘Boris Johnson needs to make sure these two cases are right near the top of his in-tray’ - Kathy Voss
 
Relatives of two UK-Iranian dual nationals jailed in Iran are calling on the UK Government to do more to secure the release of their relatives. 
 
Richard Ratcliffe and Kamran Foroughi - who have both led high-profile campaigns for their loved ones - are handing in petitions to Downing Street and the Foreign Office on Monday lunchtime on behalf of Mr Ratcliffe’s imprisoned wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Mr Foroughi’s jailed father Kamal Foroughi. 
 
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, was sentenced to five years in prison last month following a conviction on unspecified “national security-related” offences after an unfair trial before a Revolutionary Court in the capital Tehran. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker who lives in Hampstead, north-west London, was originally arrested at Tehran Airport on 3 April along with her then 22-month-old daughter Gabriella. She was initially held in solitary confinement for several weeks and denied access to either a lawyer or her family. She was later the subject of a series of statements from the Iranian authorities suggesting she was involved in espionage. 
 
Amnesty International has described her case as a “travesty of justice throughout”. 
 
At approximately 1pm on Monday, Richard Ratcliffe and Kamran Foroughi will be taking a 72,000-signature Amnesty petition to the Foreign Office calling on the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to prioritise Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case as well as that of fellow UK-Iranian dual national Kamal Foroughi.
 
Mr Foroughi, a 77-year-old oil and gas company consultant, is serving his sixth year of an eight-year jail sentence after being convicted of espionage and possessing alcohol. He was originally detained in May 2011 and under Iranian law (Article 58 of the Islamic Penal Code) has long been eligible for conditional release after serving more than a third of his sentence. 
 
Mr Foroughi will have spent exactly 2,000 days behind bars on Monday, and his son and supporters will also be handing in a Change.org petition to Downing Street (1.30pm) calling on the Prime Minister Theresa May to act on the case. 
 
Foroughi, was originally arrested on 5 May 2011, and was held - mostly in solitary confinement - without access to a lawyer until the day before a court hearing nearly two years later (in early 2013). Prior to his arrest in 2011, Foroughi was warned he was at increased risk of developing cancer and was advised by doctors to have regular specialised medical tests, something he was denied in prison for over four years. Recently Foroughi has developed cataracts in both eyes and is in need of cataract-removal operations. His son has said he’s being denied these in prison and is “slowly going blind”. 
 
A small number of Amnesty activists - including Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen -  will accompany the two men during Monday’s two petition hand-ins. These will be carrying placards saying “Free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe” and “Free Kamal Foroughi”.
 
Amnesty International UK’s Individuals At Risk Campaign Manager Kathy Voss said:
 
“There’s been a lot of talk recently about ‘thawing relations’ between the UK and Iran, but these two cases lend the lie to that. 
 
“It looks very much like Nazanin and Kamal are being treated like pawns by the Iranian authorities and we’d like to see the UK seriously raising its game over securing proper justice for these British nationals.
 
“Boris Johnson needs to make sure these two cases are right near the top of his in-tray. We can’t let this drop.”
 

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