It has sadly been announced today that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been given a further 1 year jail sentence with then an additional 1 year travel ban preventing her from leaving Iran after this jail term ends. Her lawyer has said an appeal is being lodged on the basis that the charges had been laid out of time.
In 2016, Nazanin was arrested by the Revolutionary Guard in Tehran airport before boarding a plane back to the UK with her 1-year-old daughter. They had been in Tehran to visit Nazanin’s parents. After being held for over 8 months in solitary confinement and following a grossly unfair trial, Nazanin was sentenced to 5 years in prison having been “convicted” of espionage. This sentence ended on the 7th March and she should have been able to return to her husband and daughter in the UK. However, a new trial was held on the 14th March despite there being no new information. Nazanin’s lawyer has noted that in standard proceedings the outcome of a hearing is given within a 7 day period. Nazanin was given this new sentence today, 6 weeks after her hearing. It’s clear that Nazanin continues to be used as a pawn in a political game with no regard for her wellbeing.
Nazanin’s family and Amnesty International have campaigned continuously over the last 5 years and repeatedly called on the UK government to ensure her release.
Why are British-Iranian dual nationals being imprisoned?
Nazanin is not the only dual national currently detained on spurious charges in Iran. The parliamentary foreign affairs select committee stated that British-Iranians are being used as “bargaining chips and leverage” by Iranian authorities to settle political and economic disputes between the UK and Iran. The committee has also criticised the UK government on their soft approach to negotiating the release of their citizens. 1
This May, in solidarity with Nazanin and all British-Iranian dual nationals arbitrarily imprisoned in Iran, Amnesty International members and friends will be collectively covering the massive distance of 2,730 miles*: the distance between London and Tehran, the distance separating Nazanin, Anoosheh, Mehran and others from their families and loved ones in the UK.
This walking challenge is part of AIUK’s campaign to #BringThemHome. We will continue to show the UK government that these people have not been forgotten by the British public and push the British and Iranian authorities to do everything they can to secure Nazanin, Anoosheh and Mehran’s release.
Join us and help us to walk, run, skip, cycle, roll, skate (or however you like to move!) the 2,730 miles from London to Tehran this May as we continue to shine a spotlight on their cases. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Anoosheh, a retired engineer was imprisoned by Iranian authorities whilst visiting his mother in Tehran. After his arrest, he was held in solitary confinement for more than six weeks, where he reports he was repeatedly interrogated and forced to sign ‘confessions’ of guilt. After an unfair trial without representation, he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for “cooperating with a hostile state against the Islamic Republic” and obtaining “illicit funds”.
Anoosheh has now been jailed for more than three and a half years. The inhumane conditions in which he has been held have denied him his basic rights; he has attempted suicide 3 times. His wife, Sherry, and their children continue to campaign for his release.
Mehran, a labour rights activist, was arrested in October 2020 and has since been held prisoner in Evin prison in Tehran. The work of labour rights activists has been consistently and aggressively deterred by Iranian authorities who attack, beat, arrest and torture their targets.
In February 2021, Amnesty reported that Mehran was being held in prolonged solitary confinement, in circumstances which violate the absolute prohibition of torture, and called for his immediate and unconditional release.
*To put that into perspective, that is the equivalent of 104 marathons, 3 times the length of the UK, or two and a half times around the moon, and puts The Proclaimers well and truly to shame (so we’ll need all the help you can give!).