Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband fears she will be forced to confess
The Guardian: The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian woman detained in Tehran, says he is becoming increasingly worried she is being pressured to sign a forced confession after she was moved to an isolated ward in a mental hospital. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was moved to the mental ward of Iman Khomeini hospitalon Monday – a move that the family initially welcomed after months of calling for her to get medical treatment.
Richard Ratcliffe told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme his initial euphoria at the move turned to anguish after Revolutionary Guards blocked access to her father and consulate staff.
He claimed his wife’s hunger strikes in protest at her continued detention could have prompted the Iranian authorities to move her. But he is worried by what the Revolutionary Guards may do to her.
Ratcliffe said: “The last time she met the Revolutionary Guard, which was when she was on hunger strike, they were pressuring her to sign various denouncements of the British government and to confess to various things. That’s when I began to get worried … Are they only isolating her again to squeeze her?”
When it was pointed out that few outside Iran would believe any forced confession she made, Ratcliffe said: “I think that’s right – just getting her home is the most important.”
He said: “We were quite hopeful when she was being transferred to hospital. We’ve been calling for a long time that she get medical treatment. So we started off quite euphoric. Then as it’s transpired that she’s under the control of the Revolutionary Guard again, and there’s no access, we’ve obviously got more worried.
“It’s possible it’s good news. It’s possible that it is a prelude to her release and getting treatment, and actually, all my fears are unfounded. And then it’s possible that something else is going on.”
Ratcliffe confirmed his father-in-law was prevented from seeing Zaghari-Ratcliffe on Tuesday. He said: “Her dad went down the hospital and tried to visit and spent a number of hours there, wasn’t able to get in. He took some lunch along, wasn’t able to deliver that and wasn’t able to phone her from the hospital reception.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran in April 2016 while travelling with the couple’s daughter and accused of spying. The Thomson Reuters Foundation employee faced charges of spreading “propaganda against the regime”.
She vehemently denied the allegation, saying she was in Iran to visit her family, and her account was backed by her employer, but was sentenced to five years in jail in September of that year.
However, she was further imperilled when Boris Johnson, the then foreign secretary who is likely to become prime minister next week, mistakenly said she was “teaching people journalism” in Iran. While he later corrected his error, it was cited as evidence against her.
In 2016, a UN working group said it considered Zaghari-Ratcliffe to have been arbitrarily detained.
Later Ratcliffe told Sky News he would be lobbying the new prime minister to take personal responsibility for the case.