November 14, 2020
An Iranian state television quiz show has been slammed over its use of images of jailed British woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in a question on espionage.
A video clip from the “Rokhdad” history and current affairs quiz program, which airs on the newly launched Ofogh network, shows contestants being asked to identify individuals arrested on suspicion of spying in Iran.
The footage was discovered and shared by BBC Persian journalist Parham Ghobadi and has since gone viral, the Independent reported.
During the recent episode, the show’s host asked, “which spy did (British Prime Minister) Boris Johnson demand to be released in a meeting with the Iranian president?” as contestants assessed a screen with several faces on it.
One of them answered incorrectly with “Jason Rezaian,” referring to a photo of The Washington Post journalist imprisoned for 18 months on espionage charges after a closed-door trial criticized by several international observers.
“Wrong. Nazanin Zaghari,” the host replied.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, is a Reuters employee who has been jailed in Iran for five years on charges of spying, which human rights groups and the British government say are false.
Social media users reacted angrily to the “Rokhdad” clip, branding the use of the 42-year-old mom’s image in such a way as “disgusting,” “cruel,” and “sickening.”
The other individuals alleged to be spies and pictured for the quiz question were Lebanese and US resident Nizar Zakka who was freed in 2019 after four years in jail, and Canadian-Iranian diplomat Abdolrasoul Dorri-Esfahani who was part of the negotiation team for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and was jailed in 2017 on charges of leaking Iranian secrets during the talks.
Amir Toumaj, an expert and analyst on Iran, called the clip “an example of how the Islamic Republic uses instruments of pop cultures, creating bizarre, Kafkaesque scenes.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe recently gave an account of her first interrogation in 2016.
She said she was threatened with her daughter being taken away, and her interrogators claimed her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, was a spy and gave her false information regarding her release.
After her initial arrest and interrogation, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sent to the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran.