British-Iranian aid worker sentenced to jail for “cooperation with BBC”

Richard Ratcliffe husband of imprisoned charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, poses for the media during an Amnesty International led vigil outside the Iranian Embassy in London. (AP)
Updated 23 January 2017

British-Iranian aid worker sentenced to jail for “cooperation with BBC”

DUBAI: The family of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been sentenced to five years in jail in Iran on undisclosed charges, said she has been accused by a Revolutionary Court of acting against national security by cooperating with the BBC.
Iran’s judiciary spokesman said on Sunday that Iranian appeals court confirmed the five-year jail sentence for her.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained in early April as she tried to leave Iran after a visit with her two-year-old daughter.
Her family said in a statement that the appeal “was held in secret, in the presence of a large number of Revolutionary Guards.” Neither Zaghari-Ratcliffe nor her lawyer had been allowed to tell the family what happened at her trial.
However, the family said that at the appeal hearing two new accusations have been raised against her: being the head of recruitment for the BBC Persian service, and knowingly being married to a British spy.
Iran’s judiciary was not immediately available for comment when Reuters attempted to contact officials. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the new accusations.
Speaking in response to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s jail sentence, Francesca Unsworth, director of the BBC World Service Group, said on Monday:
“Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has never worked for BBC Persian. She worked briefly for BBC Media Action, our international development charity, in a junior administrative capacity.”
Unsworth called on Iranian authorities to urgently re-examine the case.
Iranian authorities have accused the BBC Persian service of trying to overthrow the Islamic Republic, especially after its coverage of widespread protests in Iran over disputed election results in 2009. BBC has denied the allegations.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a London-based charity that is independent of Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News.
“The lack of justice in Nazanin’s case continues to be a stain on Iran,” Richard Ratcliffe, husband of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, said in a statement.
“It is a needless waste of a mother and child’s life for their own political bargains and economic interests.”
Several Iranian dual nationals from the United States, Britain, Canada and France have been detained in the past year and are being kept behind bars on charges including espionage and collaborating with hostile governments. 


After Facebook staff walkout, Zuckerberg defends no action on Trump posts

Updated 28 min 30 sec ago

After Facebook staff walkout, Zuckerberg defends no action on Trump posts

  • A group of Facebook employees complained the company should have acted against Trump’s posts about protests
  • Zuckerberg told employees Facebook had conducted a thorough review and was right to leave the posts unchallenged

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees on Tuesday that he stood by his decision not to challenge inflammatory posts by US President Donald Trump, refusing to give ground a day after staff members staged a rare public protest.
A group of Facebook employees — nearly all of them working at home due to the coronavirus pandemic — walked off the job on Monday. They complained the company should have acted against Trump’s posts about protests containing the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Zuckerberg told employees Facebook had conducted a thorough review and was right to leave the posts unchallenged, a company spokeswoman said. She said Zuckerberg also acknowledged the decision had upset many people working at the company.
On Friday, Twitter Inc. affixed a warning label to a Trump tweet about widespread protests over the death of a black man in Minnesota that included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Twitter said the post violated its rules against glorifying violence but was left up as public interest exception, with reduced options for interactions and distribution.
Facebook declined to act on the same message, and Zuckerberg sought to distance his company from the fight between the president and Twitter. He maintained that while he found Trump’s remarks “deeply offensive,” they did not violate company policy against incitements to violence.
One employee, who had tweeted his dissent on Monday, posted on Twitter his disappointment with Facebook executives.
“It’s crystal clear today that leadership refuses to stand with us,” Brandon Dail wrote on Twitter. Dail’s LinkedIn profile describes him as a user interface engineer at Facebook in Seattle.
Timothy Aveni, a junior software engineer on Facebook’s team dedicated to fighting misinformation, announced on Monday that he was resigning his position.
“Mark always told us that he would draw the line at speech that calls for violence. He showed us on Friday that this was a lie. Facebook will keep moving the goalposts every time Trump escalates, finding excuse after excuse not to act,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Civil rights leaders who attended an hour-long video call on Monday night with Zuckerberg and top Facebook executives called the CEO’s explanations for allowing Trump’s posts to stay up “incomprehensible.”
“He did not demonstrate understanding of historic or modern-day voter suppression and he refuses to acknowledge how Facebook is facilitating Trump’s call for violence against protesters,” said a joint statement from leaders of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Color of Change.