British-Iranian Charity Worker Accused by Iran of Spying Faces New Charges

Iran is preparing fresh charges against jailed British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, her husband has said, as he called on the British Foreign Secretary to prioritize the safety of British citizens over “commercial interests” with the Islamic Republic.

“He should not just do his utmost to protect British commercial interests. He should also commit to protecting British citizens,” Richard Ratcliff said, as Boris Johnson and European counterparts are expected to meet Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Brussels later on Tuesday to discuss the future of the nuclear accord.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, is serving a five-year jail sentence in Iran after being convicted of spying, after she was arrested in 2016 while on holiday with her daughter Gabriella.

The charity worker has been told by Iranian officials that further charges against her could be resurrected by authorities as early as next week, according to her husband, the BBC reported. Richard Ratcliffe said his wife is “shaken and bewildered” after learning she could face new charges.

The new developments come after members of her family visited prosecutors for an update on her case, according to her husband. “The judge is right that Nazanin’s case is a truly made up case. There isn’t anything in her file – we remain stuck as a bargaining chip,” he said.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is held at Iran’s notorious Evin Prison in Tehran. The Iranian government has never disclosed the exact nature of the crimes it alleges the British mother has committed, and she has been denied due legal representation throughout her detainment.

Her husband called on Boris Johnson to put the plight of British citizens jailed in Iran “at the top of his priority list” during talks with Zarif. “The foreign secretary promised to leave no stone unturned in his efforts to solve this issue,” he added.

“Yet from leaving no stone unturned, we are again in the midst of a new phase of stone collecting.” He continued: “The UK needs to do better by British Iranians – at the moment it is failing to protect them. UK policy is not making it safe for British citizens. Iranian policy is not making it safe for Iranian citizens.”

Iran’s has a long history of arresting dual nationals on suspicious charges and using them as bargaining chips in negotiations with the West.

[Photo: euronews (in English)/ YouTube]