Zaghari-Ratcliffe Told Furlough Would be Extended Before Being Sent Back to Prison
Iranian British dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe suffered panic attacks and a blackout in Iran’s Evin Prison after her furlough extension request was unexpectedly denied at the last minute.
“She had panic attacks after she was separated from her 4-year-old daughter that she was holding in her arms after two and a half years,” her husband Richard Ratcliffe told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on August 29, 2018. “Nazanin’s family have asked the authorities to transfer her to a hospital but as far as I know, there has been no response.”
On the last day of her furlough, August 26, the 39-year-old mother had been told that her furlough extension request had been approved before learning later that day that an unnamed authority had not signed off on it.
“The deputy prosecutor told Nazanin that her case was more complex than others’ and he could not just issue an approval without authorization, which he was still waiting on, but that she did not need to go back to prison today,” said Ratcliffe in a statement emailed to CHRI.
“In the car on the way back, her interrogators called and told her that they had approved her extension since her behavior had been good while out,” he added. “Ten minutes after Nazanin had returned home, the family received a second call from the Prosecutor’s Office informing her that in fact, she would have to return to prison by sunset that day. The necessary permit had not been signed off.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC’s) Intelligence Organization arrested Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Tehran in April 2016 while she was in the Imam Khomeini International Airport waiting for her flight back home.
A former staff member of the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was accused of committing espionage and sentenced to five years in prison under unspecified national security charges later that year. But in July 2018, a judge admitted to her that she was being held as a bargaining chip by the Iranian government to use in its dealings with the UK.
“On Saturday, 21 July, the Iranian judge in charge of parole and early releases confirmed to Nazanin that she will not be released temporarily, given parole, or shown clemency on humanitarian grounds until the UK government’s debt is repaid to Iran,” said a statement by the Free Nazanin Campaign on July 23, 2018.
Iran claims the UK owes it 300 million pounds ($394 million USD) plus interest because Great Britain never fully honored a 1976 deal to deliver hundreds of Chieftain tanks to the Iranian military. Iran paid the funds before its 1979 revolution and never received the tanks.
Following Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s return to prison on August 26, the UK’s new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted that Britain should “redouble efforts to find a way to get her home.”