Husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe appeals to UN

Husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe appeals to UN for her release
2 min read
07 August, 2021
Richard Ratcliffe has filed a request with the UN’s working group on arbitrary detention, to secure his wife's release from an Iranian prison.
Richard Ratcliffe hoped that recent negotiations could result in his wife being freed [Getty]

The husband of the jailed British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has filed a special request with the UN, asking them to work to have her released from Iranian jail

Richard Ratcliffe filed an "urgent action request and individual complaint" on his wife's behalf, requesting that work be undertaken by the UN's working group on arbitrary detention, to free his wife. 

"We have been relatively quiet these past months, waiting and hoping that the government's negotiations with Iran would finally deliver," said Richard Ratcliffe.

"But this week’s events - Iran’s announcements that hostage negotiations are again on hold, and the attacks on shipping that resulted in two lost lives - were a signal that things have again turned for the worse with the change of government in Iran," he said. 

This week, Iran witnessed the swearing-in of Ebrahim Raisi as president, who is expected to take a much harder line than his reformist predecessor, Hassan Rouhani. 

Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been imprisoned in Iran since 2016, when the British charity worker was accused of being a spy, and sentenced to five years.

In April, she was handed a further year in prison, after an Iranian court found her guilty of "propaganda against the system" by participating in a protest outside the Iranian embassy in London in 2009. 

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Iran has been accused by numerous nations of holding foreign nationals as prisoners to be used as bargaining chips in negotiations. 

In addition to Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Iran is known to be holding British-Iranian engineer Anoosheh Ashoori, who was jailed for 10 years, and British resident Aras Amiri, who works for the British Council. 

Iran and the UK have long been holding discussions about an alleged £400 million debt that the UK owes to Iran, for failing to deliver tanks that Iran purchased in the 1970s.

Iran has repeatedly denied that its holding of British citizens is linked to the ongoing debt discussions. 

"I met the foreign secretary this week to get his sense of things. He insisted the negotiations had come close, hoped they could be picked up again under the new regime, and that he was determined not to leave any Brits behind," said Ratcliffe.

"I see that now as inevitable, unless the UK and the international community takes a much firmer stand against state hostage-taking, and calls it out as a crime," he added. 

On Wednesday the UK government again condemned Iran for holding British nationals. 

"Iran's continued arbitrary detention of our dual nationals is unacceptable. We urge the Iranian authorities to release the detainees without any further delay," said a government spokesperson.