ARTICLE 19 strongly condemns the additional charges placed on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe by the Iranian judiciary following UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson’s, statements that implied Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran to train journalists instead of visiting her family. “Nazanin is being wrongfully imprisoned in Iran since her arrest in April 2016,” said Thomas Hughes, ARTICLE 19’s Executive Director, “and the authorities in Iran have maliciously used Boris Johnson’s erroneous comments to try and lengthen her imprisonment. As such, the Foreign Office must urgently clarify the statement by the Foreign Secretary. The Iranian authorities must accept Nazanin was visiting her family and release her”.
Boris Johnson’s error has been seized upon by the Iranian Judiciary, and used to frame Nazanin. In an article dated 5 November, the Judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights referred to the statement as confirmation that “UK confirms Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was not in Iran on holiday.”
An article published by the judiciary underlines the severity of the Secretary’s words in Iran’s efforts to persecute an innocent woman. The Judiciary ‘s article further stated:
“His statement shows that Nazanin had visited the country for anything but a holiday. For months it was claimed that Nazanin is a British-Iranian charity worker who went to see her family when she was arrested… Mr Johnson’s statement has shed new light on the realities about Nazanin, which has been strongly denied previously by both her family and human rights activists such as Shirin Ebadi.”
Nazanin’s family were informed that she was going to be taken to court on a new set of charges. They were told that she would be taken to the Revolutionary Court 26, where Judge Ahmadzadeh presides, thought to be the most moderate of the revolutionary judges. Instead she was taken to Revolutionary Court 15 on a different date, Saturday, 4 November, the first working day in Iran following the Foreign Secretary’s statement. Nazanin’s case was put on trial a second time without the presence of her lawyer and presided over by Judge Salavati, regarded as the most severe of the revolutionary judges.
Judge Salavati informed Nazanin that there were new accusations against her, under a new charge of “spreading propaganda against the regime”, while the file shown to Nazanin were the original files with no new information. Nazanin refused to sign the papers without the presence of her lawyer. Charging a person twice for the same charges is illegal under the Iranian legal system.
“These new tactics represent a gross violation of Nazanin’s right to a fair trial and due process. Nazanin has already served nearly two years in prison on vague ‘national security’ charges. Threats of doubling her prison sentence for the same charges, at the last minute before her eligibility for release, is a cruel attempt by authorities to silence and intimidate media workers and others, simply for carrying out their work” said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.
The Iranian authorities must immediately stop these new tactics of intimidation, drop charges and enable Nazanin’s release from prison, and end its imprisonment of media workers and human rights defenders.