Husband: Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s Jobs and Britishness “Exaggerated” to Use Her as “Bargaining Chip”
Iranian judicial officials are misrepresenting Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s past jobs and her British citizenship to persuade the UK government to negotiate with the Iranian government for her release, her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“He [the Tehran prosecutor] emphasized that she has a British husband, that she is British-Iranian and worked for the BBC—that big British institution—and kind of suggested that the British government needs to do something,” he said.
“The reason they are bringing up the BBC instead of Reuters is to emphasize her Britishness in a way that is quite different than before,” said Ratcliffe. “It is a different strategy now.”
Speaking at a gathering of assistant prosecutors on October 17, 2017, Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi claimed the imprisoned dual national directed “propaganda activities” against Iran.
“Her husband is a British citizen and she has British and Iranian citizenship as well, and she worked for that country’s government,” he said. “She was in charge of teaching online journalism at the BBC’s Persian service with the objective of attracting and training individuals for propaganda activities against Iran.”
“They were taught how to use anonymous email services and sophisticated passwords and encryption software to hide information,” added Dowlatabadi. “The instructors for these classes included Mehdi Yahyanejad, the webmaster of Balatarin; Ardavan Roozbeh, the director of Radio Koocheh, and Mahmoud Enayat, the director of Small Media.”
Ratcliffe told CHRI that Dowlatabadi’s claims were “inaccurate.”
“She worked as a project assistant for BBC Media Action, which is a charity part of the organization,” he said. “So she wasn’t a big manager. She was just an assistant.”
The director of the BBC World Service, Frances Unsworth, stated in January 2017 that Zaghari-Ratcliffe never worked for BBC Farsi, and never ran or directed any program at the BBC.
In a statement issued on October 18, 2017, the FreeNazanin Campaign responded to a claim by Dowlatabadi that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had received a letter from former UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
“…[S]he has never received a letter from David Cameron, though she has received an election leaflet addressed to her from him previously,” said the statement. “Her husband did request David Cameron to intercede on Nazanin’s case following the presentation of a petition of half a million signatures to Downing St in May 2016. He is grateful he did.”
A researcher for the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in Tehran in April 2016 while waiting for a flight back home with her two-year-old daughter after visiting family. She is serving a five-year prison sentence on unspecified espionage charges.
In October 2017, Ratcliffe announced that his wife, who has been diagnosed with advanced depression, was facing charges that could add 16 more years to her prison sentence.
In the interview with CHRI, Ratcliffe said both governments are responsible for upholding the rights of their citizen.
“The British government needs to protect its citizens and the Iranian government needs to protect its citizens from being used as bargaining chips,” he said.