Human rights activists have called on British MPs to intervene over Iran’s imprisonment of Anglo-Iranian charity Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
A video appeal by actress and human rights advocate Nazanin Boniadi asks representatives to “put their citizens before politics” by pressing for the immediate release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, seized as she was returning from a visit to her mother in Tehran in April 2016.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked for the charity branch of Thomson Reuters, was given a five-year sentence. The Supreme Court upheld the ruling in April. The Iranian judiciary has recently threatened to raise the sentence to 21 years, with Zaghari-Ratcliffe summoned into new court hearings.
No evidence has ever been produced by prosecutors and the courts for the charges that Zaghari Ratcliffe was involved in propaganda for regime change.
In 2009-2010 Zaghari-Ratcliffe worked for the BBC;s international charitable project Media Action, which includes training for journalists. Last month, trying to justify the prison sentence and its possible extension, Iranian State media broadcast lengthy reports which tried to turn a payslip and an innocuous e-mail into “proof” of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s guilt.
The Iranian regime has pursued a long-standing campaign against the BBC, which it portrays as part of a “soft war” by Western powers against the Islamic Republic. Staff of BBC Persian have been harassed and intimidated, with their assets seized, their families in Iran interrogated and threatened with detention, and threats of dissemination of damaging claims and photographs about their personal lives.