Iranian court rejects final appeal of jailed British-Iranian charity worker

In this Jan. 16, 2017 file photo, 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 24 April 2017

Iranian court rejects final appeal of jailed British-Iranian charity worker

DUBAI: Iran’s Supreme Court has upheld a five-year jail sentence for a British-Iranian charity worker who was convicted on unspecified charges relating to national security, her husband said on Monday.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested by the elite Revolutionary Guards in April 2016 at a Tehran airport, as she was about to return to Britain with her two-year-old daughter after a family visit.
Iranian media have said she was convicted of plotting the “soft overthrow” of Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge denied by the Foundation and her family. She was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in September.
Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said the appeal was her last legal opportunity to challenge the sentence.
“Nazanin discovered this weekend that her final appeal at the Supreme Court has failed, and her 5-year sentence has been upheld,” he said in an e-mailed statement, describing his wife as angry but not shocked.
“Her lawyer was told over the phone that there was no more that the Court could do for Nazanin’s case, and the legal review was closed. There was no court hearing for this judgment.”
The Iranian judiciary declined to respond to calls seeking comment.
Ratcliffe said his wife had still not been allowed to know the exact charges on which she was convicted. He urged the British government to publicly call for her release.
“Now it is time for the UK government to say Nazanin is innocent. She was a mum on holiday, who works for a development charity in London,” he said.
The British Foreign Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It has previously expressed “deep concern” over Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s sentence, but has stopped short of calling for her release.
She works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a London-based charity that is independent of Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News. Its chief executive Monique Villa described the rejection of the appeal as a huge blow.
“She is not a spy but an innocent mother who traveled to Iran only to show her baby to her parents. I stand united with Richard in calling for her immediate release. Nazanin has suffered terribly over her past year,” Villa said.
“We continue to be very concerned for her health and wellbeing, and she is desperately missed by her family and all at the Foundation. I ask for clemency.”
Iran refuses to recognize dual nationals and denies them access to consular assistance. The British ambassador to Iran last year visited Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s daughter Gabriella, who has been placed in the care of her Iranian grandparents.
Last year, the United Nations human rights investigator for Iran called for the immediate release of three Iranians with dual nationality, including Zaghari-Ratcliffe.


UN officials appeal for Yemen funding amid pandemic

Updated 32 min 20 sec ago

UN officials appeal for Yemen funding amid pandemic

  • The United Nations says COVID-19 has likely already spread throughout most of Yemen
  • UN officials: What we don’t have is the money. We ask donors to pledge generously and pay pledges promptly

UNITED NATIONS, United States: Top officials from several UN agencies appealed Thursday for urgent international financial support in Yemen with coronavirus spreading in the war-torn country.
“We are increasingly alarmed about the situation in Yemen,” officials from the UN Humanitarian Affairs Department, UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization said in a joint statement.
“We are running out of time,” they said.
The United Nations says COVID-19 has likely already spread throughout most of Yemen, which was already immersed in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis because of a war that shows no sign of abating.
The UN officials said they currently have enough “skills, staff and capacity.”
“What we don’t have is the money. We ask donors to pledge generously and pay pledges promptly,” they said, noting that a donors conference has been organized for June 2 by Saudi Arabia and the United Nations.
Mark Lowcock, the under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said $2.4 billion needed to be raised by the end of the year for Yemen, including $180 million to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Yemen is in desperate need of assistance,” Muhannad Hadi of the World Food Programme said, while UNICEF’s director, Henriette Fore, warned of a “major disaster.”
More than 12 million children in Yemen are in need of humanitarian aid, she said.
Before the pandemic, two million children lacked schools. Another five million have since been forced to quit school, she said.
Officially, 50 people have died from the new coronavirus in Yemen and infections have been reported in 10 of country’s 22 governorates.
“But testing and reporting remain limited and it is likely that most areas of the country are already impacted, if not all,” the United Nations reports.
Yemen has been engulfed in war since 2014 between Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who control several regions including the capital Sanaa, and the government backed by a coalition led since 2015 by Saudi Arabia.