UK-Iranian ‘hostage’ Zaghari-Ratcliffe due back in Tehran jail

British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces a new court appearance next week in Tehran and will be hauled back to jail, her husband said. (File/AFP)
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Updated 28 October 2020

UK-Iranian ‘hostage’ Zaghari-Ratcliffe due back in Tehran jail

  • Iran last month abruptly postponed a new trial of Zaghari-Ratcliffe but she has now been told to report to a court, her husband said
  • He said in a statement that the UK government’s diplomatic approach “seems disastrous”

LONDON: British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces a new court appearance next week in Tehran and will be hauled back to jail, her husband said Wednesday, expressing fear her case could drag on “for years.”
Iran last month abruptly postponed a new trial of Zaghari-Ratcliffe but she has now been told to report to a court on Monday, Richard Ratcliffe said in a statement.
“She was told to pack a bag for prison and bring it with her when the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) pick her up, since that is where she will be going after court,” he said.
Ratcliffe linked the development to the postponement of a hearing that was due to take place on Tuesday in London, to address Iran’s longstanding demand for the repayment by Britain of hundreds of millions from an old military order.
After speaking with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday, he said in the statement that the UK government’s diplomatic approach “seems disastrous.”
“It is imperative that the UK protects Nazanin. I told the foreign secretary that I felt the UK is dancing to Iran’s tune, and exposing Nazanin to abuse because of it,” Ratcliffe said.
“As Nazanin’s husband, I do think that if she’s not home for Christmas, there’s every chance this could run for years,” he added, accusing Iran of “hostage diplomacy.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who will turn 42 on Boxing Day, has been on temporary release from Tehran’s Evin prison and under house arrest since earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
She has spent more than four years in jail or under house arrest since being arrested in the Iranian capital in April 2016 while visiting relatives with her young daughter.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation — the media organization’s philanthropic arm — denied charges of sedition but was convicted and jailed for five years.
There was no immediate response from the UK government Wednesday. Last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the government was raising its concerns with Iran “at the highest levels.”


Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu says he will visit Bahrain soon

Updated 5 min 56 sec ago

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu says he will visit Bahrain soon

  • ‘We are both excited to bring the fruits of peace to our people and countries in such a short time’
JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he would visit Bahrain “soon” at the invitation of the Gulf state’s Crown Prince Salman Al-Khalifa.
Bahrain followed the United Arab Emirates in normalizing ties with Israel in a deal brokered by the United States that marked a strategic Middle East alignment against Iran. The shift has enraged the Palestinians who have demanded statehood before any such regional rapprochement.
“We are both excited to bring the fruits of peace to our people and countries in such a short time. That’s why he (Al-Khalifa) invited me to come soon for a formal visit in Bahrain and I will do this happily,” Netanyahu said in a statement about a phone call he held with the crown prince.
A first Bahraini delegation visited Israel last Wednesday.
Since September, the Trump administration has brokered agreements with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan toward normalizing their relations with Israel. An Israeli delegation traveled to Sudan on Monday.
Although White House officials have said more countries are considering normalizing ties with Israel, further developments appear unlikely before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20 and establishes his administration’s policy on Iran.
Biden has said he would rejoin the nuclear accord that world powers signed with Iran if it first resumed strict compliance with the deal, and would work with allies to strengthen its terms.