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Sunday 14 March 2021

Trial of British-Iranian Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Tehran

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LONDON (Reuters) – The trial of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe at Iran’s Revolutionary court was held on Sunday, her lawyer Hojjat Kermani told the Iranian Emtedad website, hoping she would be acquitted from the charge of “propaganda against the system”.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (2011)
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was born and raised in Tehran and studied English literature at the University of Tehran, before becoming an English teacher. Following the 2003 Bam earthquake she worked as a translator in the relief effort for the Japan International Cooperation Agency. She later worked for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and then moved to the World Health Organization (WHO) as a communications officer. In 2007, Zaghari-Ratcliffe moved to the UK after receiving a scholarship. In 2011, Zaghari-Ratcliffe began working at the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at a Tehran airport in April 2016 and later convicted of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment. Iranian authorities had released her from house arrest last Sunday at the end of a five-year prison sentence, but she had been summoned to court again on the other charge.

Her family and the foundation, a charity that operates independently of media giant Thomson Reuters and its subsidiary Reuters news agency, deny the charge.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who served out most of her sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison, was released last March during the coronavirus pandemic and kept under house arrest, but her movements were restricted and she was barred from leaving the country. Last Sunday, Iranian authorities removed her ankle tag, but she could not leave the country.

British foreign minister Dominic Raab welcomed the removal of the ankle tag but said Iran continued to put Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family through a “cruel and an intolerable ordeal”. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a call with Iranian Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday, said Zaghari-Ratcliffe must be allowed to return home to her family.

Iranian media reported that during the call, Rouhani raised the issue of a £400 mln historical debt which Tehran says Britain owes the Islamic Republic in capital and interest for a 1970s arms deal with the Imperial regime of Iran, prior to Islamic revolution of 1979.

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