UK

Husband pleads for UK help with wife's Iran release

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard and daughter Gabriella
Image caption Richard Ratcliffe has been campaigning for the return of his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and daughter Gabriella

The husband of a British-Iranian charity worker imprisoned in Iran has called on the UK government to do more to help with her release.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, was jailed for five years last month on secret charges.

The United Nations has said she should be freed immediately, calling it a "mockery of justice".

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife was being used as a "bargaining chip" and the UK should be more critical of Iran.

He said the UK government "regularly expressed concern but they've never ever criticised and called a spade a spade".

He said his wife was angry that more was not being done to secure her release and family members who have seen her for the first time since her arrest were shocked at how much weight and hair she had lost.

'Bring her home'

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at Tehran airport after visiting her family on holiday seven months ago. The exact charges against her have not been published.

The couple's two-year-old daughter Gabriella had her passport taken after her mother's arrest and has been staying with her grandparents in Iran ever since.

Mr Ratcliffe said: "She still wakes up in the middle of the night asking for her mum."

He said she can no longer speak English and when he calls her it has to be translated into Farsi.

Image caption Richard's only contact with his daughter is via Skype

A UN working group has said that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's detention contravened international law.

"Taking into account all the circumstances of the case, especially the risk of harm to Ms Ratcliffe's health and physical integrity and the well-being of her child, the working group considers the adequate remedy would be to release her immediately."

It also found she had been discriminated against, and detained because she was a dual national. Iran does not recognise dual nationality.

Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur for Iran, said the case was "a mockery of justice" and was "evidence of the Iranian judiciary's complete disregard for the most basic fair trial and due process guarantees" both in Iranian and international law.

The Ratcliffes' local MP, Labour's Tulip Siddiq, agreed more needed to be done to secure her release.

She said she thought the British government was wary of jeopardising diplomatic relations, which have improved steadily since the deal on Iran's nuclear programme was struck.

"The government has consistently made excuses to avoid laying judgement at the door of the Iranian authorities," she said.

"We are now calling on Theresa May and Boris Johnson to put the entire machinery of government behind bringing Nazanin home to her family as soon as possible."

The Foreign Office said both the prime minister and foreign secretary had raised her case with their counterparts in Iran and would continue to do so.

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