U.K.-Iranian Charity Worker Awaits Another Verdict in Iran
(Bloomberg) -- Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian charity worker whose five-year sentence in Iran on national security charges ended last week, appeared in court on Sunday for a hearing related to a separate case, her lawyer said.
Hojjat Kermani said her final court session was held in the morning and the court declared the “trial process was over.” A verdict on charges related to propaganda against the state should be issued in a week’s time, but could be delayed because of the Persian New Year holiday in Iran, he added.
Kermani did not give any details about what was said at Sunday’s hearing or speculate about what it might mean for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s legal status and ability to leave Iran and rejoin her family in the U.K.
An additional sentence would further complicate relations between Iran and the U.K., which have already become heavily strained over the fate of the beleaguered 2015 nuclear accord and Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s arrest. Her detention has at times proved a major challenge for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who as foreign secretary in 2017 was forced to apologize after saying she had been in the country training journalists and not on holiday at the time of her arrest.
In a tweet, U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was “unacceptable” that Iran has continued “a second wholly arbitrary case” against Zaghari-Ratcliffe, adding that she should be allowed to return to Britain immediately.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested and separated from her young daughter at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport in April 2016, as she was traveling back to the U.K. following a visit to see family in Iran.
She was jailed immediately and has spent the final year of her sentence under house arrest after authorities furloughed scores of prisoners in March 2020 in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus in detention centers. Last week, she was officially released after her five-year term ended and a security tag was removed from her ankle, but was not allowed to leave the country.
Iranian authorities have accused her of sedition against the state and conspiring to topple the Islamic Republic, charges she, her family and the U.K. government have vigorously denied.
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