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Iran jails British woman for 5 years on security charges

Dual citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for a charity organization, accused of trying to overthrow the government

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter, Gabriella, in 2016. (AFP)
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter, Gabriella, in 2016. (AFP)

TEHRAN — Iran has sentenced an Iranian-British woman accused of trying to overthrow the cleric-run government to five years in prison, a news website affiliated with the judiciary reported Sunday.

Mizan Online quoted a prosecutor as saying the sentence against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been finalized. The prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, did not elaborate.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency’s charitable arm, was detained in April 2016, while trying to leave the country with her toddler daughter, who remains in Iran with family after authorities seized her passport.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, confirmed that an appeals court upheld her sentence for the charge of “acting against national security.” The family has denied she violated any laws.

Richard Ratcliffe husband of imprisoned charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, poses for the media during an Amnesty International led vigil outside the Iranian Embassy in London, January 16, 2017. (AP/Alastair Grant)
Richard Ratcliffe husband of imprisoned charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, poses for the media during an Amnesty International led vigil outside the Iranian Embassy in London, January 16, 2017. (AP/Alastair Grant)

Iranian authorities have arrested a number of dual citizens on security-related charges since the Islamic Republic reached a nuclear accord with world powers in 2015, in a crackdown led by hard-liners in the security services and the judiciary.

Richard Ratcliffe said among the accusations against his wife is that she was head of recruitment for BBC Farsi at the time of its founding and in 2009.

Monique Villa, the CEO of Thomson Reuters Foundation denied this in a statement, “Nazanin has never worked for BBC Farsi. She served in a junior capacity as a Training Assistant for BBC Media Action, the charitable arm of the BBC, from 2009 to 2010.”

Iran does not recognize dual nationalities, meaning those detained cannot receive consular assistance. In most cases, dual nationals have faced secret charges in closed-door hearings before Iran’s Revolutionary Court, which handles cases involving alleged attempts to overthrow the government.

British Prime Minister Theresa May raised concerns about Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case during a phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last August.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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