Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe attended the Revolutionary Court to face Judge Abolghasem Salavati this morning in the second case brought against her by the Iranian judiciary.
After what family described as a “sleepless night”, the British-Iranian dual national travelled with her father to the courthouse shortly before 8am local time. Her lawyer then took her into Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court.
Nazanin, a charity worker and mother-of-one, was released from her initial sentence last weekend and was able to travel freely around the country for the first time in five years.
The second case against her is a continuation of another trial on charges of “propaganda against the regime”, which was first introduced in October 2017 and was abruptly adjourned in November 2020.
In the courtroom today, only Judge Salavati, the Prosecutor’s Deputy, Nazanin and her lawyer were present. After her lawyer gave their pre-prepared defence, Nazanin was allowed to give a statement in which she clarified that she did not accept the charges.
No fresh accusations against her were made during the hearing. The judge told Nazanin that her case was now formally completed and a verdict would be issued within seven working days.
According to the Free Nazanin campaign, the British Embassy declined to accompany Nazanin to the trial, saying it was too short notice. “As we pointed out when we made the request,” the Free Nazanin campaign said in a statement today, “it would have sent a clear signal to the Iranian judiciary that Nazanin is under the UK’s protection.
“The view of her husband is that the decision by the British government not to accompany Nazanin to court risks looking to the Iranian authorities like tacit acceptance of the court process, and of any conviction that comes from it.
“Since the Embassy was unable to attend, we will be looking to the Foreign Secretary to condemn this trial as illegitimate. Secret trials are against international law, even aside from diplomatic protection. The Foreign Office has an instinct of not inflaming, but keeping away has not challenged Iran’s victim blaming of Nazanin, it is a missed opportunity to set a marker to challenge the abuse of other British hostages to come.”
That said, the campaign added, the Ambassador had sent a kind message to Nazanin this morning and visited her at home this week, which they said had been “very important to us all”.
Last week the torture survivors’ charity Redress sent a medical report to the UK government, highlighting the medical impact of five years of detention on Nazanin, and the failure of the government to protect her. Members of the campaign have also asked the British government why it is not willing to publicly call Nazanin a hostage despite acknowledging this is the case behind closed doors.
“We all recognise there are lessons to learn from Nazanin’s case,” they said in a statement. “The protection for Nazanin has simply not been good enough. This should not continue to happen for others.
“Following today’s trial, Nazanin’s status continues to remain uncertain. Before her first sentence was ended, this second case was suddenly revived, effectively providing a legal ruse to hold her in Iran. At present, the length of her detention going forwards remains unknown. It might be over soon, it might become much heavier. It remains open-ended. In short, she remains a hostage of the state of Iran.”
Supposed "evidence" presented in the case against Nazanin included her having worked for the Thompson Reuters Foundation and BBC Media Action in the past. In a statement issued on Sunday, Antonio Zappulla, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, said: “Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s five-year trauma should have come to an end last week. On Mother’s Day in the UK, she should have been reunited with her young daughter, whom she desperately misses.
"Instead, this latest trial and delayed outcome is a deliberate move to prolong her ordeal and her suffering. We reiterate that the Thomson Reuters Foundation does not work in Iran, and that Nazanin had never travelled to Iran for work-related reasons. Nazanin must be given her permanent freedom and allowed the reunion with her family which she has been so cruelly denied.”