British Iranian woman imprisoned in Iran is being 'tortured', family tells UN

by The Region    


Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman accused by Iranian authorities of pushing for a "soft overthrow" of the Islamic Republic, is being subjected to "psychological abuse", according to a case submitted to the UN special rapporteur on torture. 

The case is being forwarded by a campaign led by her husband Richard, who says that over the course of what is supposed to be her 5-year prison term, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been subjected to immense psychological distress arising from "conditions of solitary confinement, the psychological pressures in the arbitrary detention and court proceedings, and her use as a tool of pressure in wider diplomatic affairs." 

"It's very hard for both of us to be hopeful at this point. We were obviously very hopeful at Christmas [for her release] and it didn't happen. Mr Ratcliffe said in a letter to the United Nations. 

In April 2016, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe a charity worker based in the UK was arrested on spying charges. At the time, she was on holiday to visit family but was accused of attempting to overthrow the Islamic Republic, a charge which she and her husband continue to reject.

In November 2017, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was severely criticised for telling a parliamentary committee that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been training journalists in the country, the very same charge that was used by Tehran only a month prior as the rationale for what the United Nations has called her "arbitrary detention". He later apologised for insinuating that she had been in the country for work-related purposes.

According to Redress, which is the platform from which the legal case for her freedom is being forwarded, Nazanin was held in solitary confinement for 45 consecutive days after she was arrested. Redress claims that her lights were permanently switched on in her cell. They also claim that she currently has difficulty walking, and suffers from severe weight and hair loss. 

After a secret and unfair trial in August 2016, Nazanin was sentenced to five years in prison. She has already spent close to a year in solitary confinement. Her family was, initially, led to believe that Nazanin would be released on 11 February, on the anniversary of the Islamist seizure of power in 1979. But the release never materialised, and they have taken the case to the U.N.   

"I think we have passed the threshold where Nazanin's treatment is torture", Nazanin's husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said on Wednesday.