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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: UK's invoking of 'diplomatic protection' status welcomed

Nazanin with her daughter Gabriella © Free Nazanin

‘It’s time for the Iranian authorities to stop playing cruel games with Nazanin and her family’ - Kate Allen

Responding to news that the UK has invoked “diplomatic protection” status for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British charity worker jailed in Iran, Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:

“We’re pleased to see that Nazanin’s plight remains a priority for the UK Government, and if this helps secure her release after nearly three years of unjust imprisonment then of course we welcome the move.

“Nazanin should never have been arrested in the first place, and she’s already suffered a string of human rights violations - including arbitrary detention, extended solitary confinement, an unfair trial and the repeated denial of vital medical care in jail.

“It’s time for the Iranian authorities to stop playing cruel games with Nazanin and her family, and release her immediately and unconditionally.”

Charity worker

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual-national charity worker, was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini 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.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is presently serving a five-year jail sentence in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. 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. Her requests for periods of temporary release - for which she is eligible - have been met on only one occasion (last 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. 

In December, Zaghari-Ratcliffe completed her 1,000th day in detention, and three days prior to that she turned 40 in jail. More than 180,000 people have supported Amnesty’s campaign for her release.

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