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IRAN: One Year On – The Case Of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

21st Century Wire says…

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran Airport on 3 April 2016 while visiting relatives in Iran with her daughter, Gabriella. Whilst maintaining innocence of her charges, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was imprisoned for five years in September and lost an appeal against her sentence in January.

It is reported that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed for ‘allegedly plotting to topple the government [of Iran]’. It is also claimed that Ratcliffe hasn’t been told of her convicted charges. Media reports in Iran say she is accused of being “one of the chief members of networks of adversary institutions, who – with the direction and support of foreign media and espionage services – has committed her criminal acts over the past few years”.

Whilst most mainstream media outlets have been reporting on Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s plight in Iran, including her release  from solitary confinment; her daughter Gabriella in the case of her grandparents in Iran; including her husband Richard Ratcliffe’s PR campaigns to bring attention to this case, there are significant grey areas which could be questioned futher.

From the following report, we know that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was actively monitored by Iranian intelligence to bring charges relating to a two year period. We’re told she was jailed for ‘allegedly planning to topple the [Iranian] government’ but has ‘not been told of the charges of which she was convicted’.

Q1. Could there be a ‘national security’ issue for Iranian officials to disseminate sensitive information relating to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s charges and furthermore, for British counterparts to acknowledge these?

Q2. Why is there lack of transparency and continued failure of British diplomacy to secure vital information of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s charges which could have aided her already rejected appeal and initially defended her accusations in court?

reports in Iran say she is accused of being “one of the chief members of networks of adversary institutions, who – with the direction and support of foreign media and espionage services – has committed her criminal acts over the past few years”…

Iran are basically accusing Zaghari-Ratcliffe of being a ‘spook’ and working for British intelligence.

Q3. Where is the evidence from the British side to prove that Zaghari-Ratcliffe wasn’t associated or engaged with any ‘networks of adversary institutions’ and ‘with the direction and support of foreign media and espionage services’? Is it possible to ‘prove a negative’ in such an instance?

Even if she was an agent, we’ll never receive or come to know this information openly because if so this is admittance and legitimacy of her charges. Security intelligence services are at their forte in the shadows. If indeed she has no connection with the intelligence services or covert operations, then it only stands to reason then that the British government should be apply the upmost intense and sustained political and diplomatic pressure on the Iranian government to negotiate Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release.

In a similar case, Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian was detained for 544 days in an Iranian prison, after being arrested and convicted in 2014 of espionage-related offenses. The case became a major diplomatic issue at the highest level of the US State affairs. After intense pressure and negotiations, Rezaian was eventually released and repatriated back home to the US.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was educated in Iran and completed a Masters in Communications Management at the London Metropolitan University. Her experience includes working in PR and Communications for the Red Cross and Red Crescent; WHO; and most notably BBC Media Action and Thomson Reuters Foundation.

With regards to BBC Media Action and it’s operations in the Middle East, the UK Column have reported on this as far back as 2014. Their report can be found here. One should note that NGO’s can and have been used to house state intelligence and security services to execute strategic operations abroad, such as ‘regime change’. One only has to look at Syria and Ukraine as examples.

Q4. Having observed this case since 2016 until present, Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s picture on her LinkedIn profile was visible until 2-3 months ago. Now it’s not. Is there someone else with access to her account apart from Zaghari-Ratcliffe, or does her Iranian prison also allow access to the internet?

More on this report from The Guardian…

Naz
Ruth Mc Kee
The Guardian

A British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran for allegedly plotting to topple the government has said she dreams of watching her husband playing with their two-year-old daughter. As the first anniversary of her detention dawned, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe described her wish to see her family dancing to Michael Jackson in in the sitting room of their home.

The 38-year-old was arrested at Tehran airport on 3 April 2016 while visiting relatives in Iran with her daughter, Gabriella. She was imprisoned for five years in September and lost an appeal against her sentence in January, but maintains her innocence. Her husband, Richard, said it had been a “long year of separation, a year of our lives interrupted”.

Although Zaghari-Ratcliffe has not been told the charges of which she was convicted, media reports in Iran say she is accused of being “one of the chief members of networks of adversary institutions, who – with the direction and support of foreign media and espionage services – has committed her criminal acts over the past few years”.

However, her family said that she works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which does not operate any charity projects in the country.

The charity worker’s daughter, Gabriella, remains stranded in Iran, cut off from her British father, after Iranian officials confiscated the child’s British passport. The toddler is currently being cared for by her maternal grandparents.

On Sunday – 365 days since her arrest – family and friends gathered at Fortune Green close to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s home in Hampstead, north-west London. Supporters tied yellow ribbons to a tree in the park along with quotes from prisoners at Evin jail in Iran, where Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held, describing what they would do with one day of freedom.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s wish reads: “My fondest dream has always been to arrive at our home. You ask me if I want to have a cup of tea, then make me one. I just sit back and watch you two play. This is the image I had most when in solitary confinement. How I wish I could watch you both dance in the middle of our sitting room to the Michael Jackson music – like when Gabriella was only tiny…

Continue this story at The Guardian

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