An Iranian court has handed British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe a new one-year jail sentence and travel ban on charges of spreading propaganda against the regime, her husband said on Monday.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was first detained at a Tehran airport in April 2016 following a vacation to see her family with her daughter. She was accused of working with organizations allegedly attempting to overthrow the Iranian regime and was later convicted and sentenced to five years in jail.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, have repeatedly denied the espionage charges against her. The case has sparked a dispute between Britain and Iran.
She served several years of her original five-year term in prison before being moved to house arrest as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Her ankle monitor was removed last month as her sentence came to an end, but she immediately faced fresh charges from Tehran.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters he doesn’t “think it’s right at all that Nazanin should be sentenced to any more time in jail.”
“I think it’s wrong that she’s there in the first place,” he continued, before adding that the UK government would “redouble our efforts, and we are working with our American friends on this issue as well.”
Johnson later tweeted: “Iran’s decision to sentence Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to another year in prison is cruel, inhumane and wholly unjustified.”
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Twitter called the latest sentence “totally inhumane and wholly unjustified.”
“We continue to call on Iran to release Nazanin immediately so she can return to her family in the UK. We continue to do all we can to support her,” he added.
Her legal representative in the UK, REDRESS, has said it is not clear whether Zaghari-Ratcliffe will be returned to prison or house arrest with an ankle tag.
UK lawmaker Tulip Siddiq, who represents the constituency where the family live in Britain, called the new jail term “absolutely devastating” in a post on Twitter. She said that it was “shocking that her husband was only just notified” and added that the latest charges were “another abusive use of her as a bargaining chip.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was given British diplomatic protection in 2019 and has been designated a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
She has undertaken at least three hunger strikes during her detention, one of them in a desperate bid to seek medical treatment for lumps in her breasts and numbness in her limbs. Last February, her family said she believed she had contracted Covid-19 in Evin Prison outside Tehran.
In 2019, her supporters said she was transferred to mental ward of a hospital in Tehran and was being denied visits from her father.