PHOTO: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her daughter Gabrielle
Iran has rejected Britain’s criticism of the five-year sentence imposed on Anglo-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said on Wednesday that remarks by a UK Foreign Office minister were “incorrect” and “interventionist”, damaging relations between Tehran and London.
The FCO’s Joyce Anelay challenged the detention of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, after the Iranian judiciary reconfirmed the five-year prison term last weekend.
After the judiciary’s announcement, the FCO’s Deputy Minister for Middle Eastern affairs, Tobias Ellwood, said he had contacted Iranian officials during a visit to Tehran on January 18:
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe appeal verdict:
Spoke to Iranian Dep Minister to express concern. More meetings planned- will cont to support family.
— Tobias Ellwood MP (@Tobias_Ellwood) January 23, 2017
Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her two-year-old daughter Gabrielle were seized in April at the airport as they were returning to the UK after a visit to relatives. The charity worker was sentenced in September. There was no public notice of the charges, although Iranian media said they related to the endangerment of national security.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s daughter, whose passport was taken, remains with her grandmother in Tehran.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qassemi would not even refer to Zaghari-Ratcliffe by name in his statement, saying, “The Judiciary, as an independent branch of government sets crimes and offenses worthy of investigation based on its own legal evidence.”
The Revolutionary Guards have detained a series of dual nationals since last autumn, in a crackdown which appears to be a challenge to the Rouhani Government as well as a maneuver versus Iran’s supposed foes.
Among those given lengthy prison terms are Iranian-American oil executive Siamak Namazi and his 80-year-old father Baquer, a Canadian-Iranian who is a former UNESCO official; Lebanese-Iranian activist Nazar Zaha, a US resident; and Iranian-American student Robin Shahini.
In July, Iranian-American dual national Karan Vafadari and his wife Afarin Neyssari, who run an art gallery in Tehran, were detained without charge and held in Evin Prison without access to lawyers.
Iran’s Oil Exports to Europe Hit 5-Year High
Europe will receive a five-year high of Iranian crude oil this month.
Arrivals on supertankers will reach 622,581 barrels per day in January, the largest amount since at least November 2011, according to ship-tracking and European Union data. Two Iranian supertankers — Huge and Snow — are en route, bringing about 4 million barrels between them.
Since the implementation of the nuclear deal in January 2016, Iran has resumed oil shipments to Europe amid the lifting of sweeping sanctions imposed in mid-2012. Tehran’s oil exports have increased by about 40% to around 2 million barrels per day.
Tehran was exempted from a cut in oil production agreed by OPEC members in early December.