Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: ahead of 40th birthday, Amnesty pledges to continue campaigning for her freedom
Amnesty supporters offer ‘simple’ birthday present of continued campaign to secure charity worker’s freedom
‘The UK Government should continue to press for Nazanin’s release using every channel of communication available to it’ - Kate Allen
Amnesty International has vowed to continue campaigning for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe as the British charity worker in jail in Iran turns 40 later this week (Wednesday 26 December).
Describing its commitment to continue its campaign as a “simple” present to mark the birthday milestone, Amnesty noted that the day will inevitably be a “day of anguish” rather than a day of celebration, with the London mother spending her third consecutive birthday in jail.
Amnesty has also called on the UK Government to use “every channel of communication available to it” in governmental efforts to secure the Briton’s release. During a visit to Iran last month, the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt reportedly raised the prospect of a pardon for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe is serving a five-year jail sentence in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison after being convicted in 2016 in an unfair trial by a Revolutionary Court on unspecified “national security charges”. Since being jailed, she has suffered a serious decline in her physical and mental health, something her husband - Richard Ratcliffe - has repeatedly drawn attention to during a high-profile campaign on his wife’s behalf.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s requests for periods of temporary release - for which she is eligible - have been met on only one occasion (in August), followed three days later by a return to jail. Amnesty described her return to jail on 26 August as a “crushing disappointment”. She is suffering from numerous health problems - including severe arm, neck and back pain - and there have been serious concerns over her mental state.
Amnesty has designated Zaghari-Ratcliffe a prisoner of conscience targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association. Amnesty has repeatedly called on the Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally. To date, more than 170,000 people have supported Amnesty’s campaign.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:
“Her birthday will be yet another painful moment for Nazanin and her family.
“What should have been a day of celebration for Nazanin will once again a day of anguish - her third birthday behind bars.
“Despite everything, we send Nazanin our warmest wishes.
“Nazanin is a prisoner of conscience who should never have been jailed in the first place.
“The UK Government should continue to press for Nazanin’s release using every channel of communication available to it. Our supporters will continue to do likewise.
“Our present to Nazanin for her birthday is a simple one: it’s a promise that we’ll campaign for Nazanin’s freedom for as long as the family need us to.”
Arrested more than two-and-a-half years ago
A British-Iranian dual-national, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at a Tehran airport on 3 April 2016 prior to boarding a plane back to the UK after a regular family visit to the country with her infant daughter Gabriella. After being detained in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to five years in prison in September 2016 after being convicted of “membership of an illegal group” in a grossly unfair trial by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran.
The conviction was in connection with her employment at Thomson Reuters Foundation, a charity organisation promoting socio-economic progress, independent journalism and the rule of law, as well as her past work as an administrative assistant with BBC Media Action. The sentence was upheld on appeal last year and her subsequent request for judicial review denied.