September 20, 2021
The campaign to free British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe held in Iran will submit a list of ten Iranians to the UK foreign secretary, Liz Truss, and urge her to sanction them for their role in “hostage-taking” of several dual citizens including the 43-year-old Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
The ten Iranians the campaign wants to be sanctioned include those involved in various stages of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s arrest, interrogation, trial, and abuse in prison as well as those who led false propaganda against her or were involved in her “deployment as an asset in diplomatic negotiations”. The campaign has said that it is not releasing the names of the ten Iranians at this stage for security reasons.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager for the Thomson-Reuters Foundation, has been detained in Iran for nearly 2,000 days. She is currently serving a second prison term for propaganda against the Iranian regime but is under house arrest due to the pandemic. Zaghari-Ratcliffe previously spent four years in prison, including eight months in solitary confinement.
Richard Ratcliffe, Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, has repeatedly charged that the Iranian government has taken his wife hostage to force the British government to repay 400-million-pounds it received in the 1970s to deliver Chieftain tanks to Iran.
“Iran conducts its diplomatic business through hostage-taking, in part because it is cost-free. British citizens will not be protected from hostage-taking by words and soundbites, but by actions that cause the perpetrators to reassess their calculations and consider the personal costs – for their role in what is a serial organised crime,” Richard Ratcliffe told the Guardian. He also called on Truss to be “proactive” and “brave” when she engages with Iranian officials “or there will be more hostages taken by Iran, and new copycat regimes”.
Liz Truss is scheduled to meet with Iran’s new foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in New York next week during the United Nations annual General Assembly meeting (UNGA). This will be the first meeting of British and Iranian foreign ministers since 2018. She is the fifth UK foreign secretary since Zaghari-Ratcliffe was first detained.
The tanks that Britain sold to Iran were never delivered but despite Iran’s demands, Britain has so far not repaid the money it had received. In September 2020, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace acknowledged the debt in a letter to lawyers representing Zaghari-Ratcliffe and families of other dual nationals held by Iran and said he was actively seeking to make arrangements for repaying it.
Anoosheh Ashoori, a British-Iranian businessman, has also been in detention in Iran for similar reasons. He has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on alleged charge of spying for Israel.
All dual nationals and foreigners detained by the Islamic Republic are charged for spying or anti-regime activities and are tried in closed-door courts without appropriate legal representation.
The Redress Trust, a London-based human-rights charity that helps survivors of torture to obtain justice and reparation in a tweet Sunday urged Truss to act decisively to tackle the issue. In March, Redress called on the British government to recognize Nazanin as a victim of torture and assert its right to attend Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s court hearing for the new charges brought against her only a few days after she completed a five-year sentence on March 7.
Two forensic specialists produced their report in February 2021after they examined Zaghari-Ratcliffe by video-link for six hours over three days in October 2020. They concluded that Zaghari-Ratcliffe suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder due to her treatment in prison and under house arrest, and continuing uncertainty and separation from her family.