UPDATE 0755 GMT:
The revelations of the “torture” of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe follow those of Anglo-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who returned to Australia in November after serving 803 days of a 10-year sentence.
Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer at the University of Melbourne, said in a TV interview on Tuesday:
“t’s [an] extreme solitary confinement room designed to break you. It’s psychological torture. You go completely insane. It is so damaging. I would say I felt physical pain from the psychological trauma I had in that room. It’s [a] 2-meter by 2-meter box.
There were a few times in that early period that I felt broken. I felt if I had to endure another day of this, you know, if I could I’d just kill myself. But of course, I never tried and I never took that step.
She explained that Revolutionary Guards officers tried to recruit her as a spy “many times”.
The Islamic Studies specialist expressed her wish that the Australian Government had intervened after her arrest in September 2018, as she prepared to leave Iran after attending an academic conference.
“Had my ordeal been made public, there’s no way I would’ve got 10 years,” she said.
UPDATE, 0745 GMT:
The wife of Anoosheh Ashouri, a retired Anglo-Iranian engineer serving a 10-year sentence in Iran, has said that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s description of torture is “extremely” familiar.
Sherri Azadi told BBC Radio 4, “Every single symptom rings very much true — with the difference that my husband is still inside [Evin Prison].”
Ashouri faces another 6 1/2 years in detention.
Azadi described the “psychological torture” and “oppression” of her husband being subjected to sensory deprivation, pressuring him to “confess” to espionage. While Ashouri was in solitary confinement, sounds of screams and torture — both of men and women — would be piped into his cell, so he could anticipate his own abuse.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (pictured), the Anglo-Iranian charity worker detained for 5 years in Iran, has detailed her “torture” in Tehran’s Evin Prison.
In six hours of video consultation over three days in October, Zaghari-Ratcliffe detailed sensory deprivation; sleep deprivation; prolonged isolation; stress positions; and prolonged handcuffing, chaining, and blindfolding.
She was repeatedly forced to listen to a female prison guard’s conversations with her infant daughter Gabriella, from whom Zaghari-Ratcliffe was separated when she was seized at a Tehran airport in April 2016 after a visit to relatives.
Medical experts have diagnosed Zaghari-Ratcliffe with “serious and chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression and obsessive compulsive disorder”. She has suffered hair loss, developed obsessive compulsive disorder about washing, and has ongoing pain impairment in her neck, right shoulder, and arm.
The specialists conclude, “In the long-term, without reunification with her family in the UK and effective treatment, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s conditions will become chronic and potentially deteriorate.” They say the Thomson Reuters Foundation staffer “is in urgent need of psychiatric pharmacological and psychotherapeutic support, as well as evaluation and treatment of her physical symptoms”.
The charity worker’s sentence was completed on Sunday. She was freed from an electronic tag, placed on her ankle after she was furloughed from prison last March amid the Coronavairus pandemic.
However, Iranian authorities refused to let her fly back to the UK to join her husband Richard and 6-year-old daughter Gabriella. Instead, they threatened her with imprisonment on a new charge. A court hearing is scheduled for this Sunday.
In a phone call on Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to arrange the “immediate release” of Zaghari-Ratcliffe. But Rouhani’s office did not mention Johnson’s request in its summary of the conversation.
The human rights group Redress is calling on the UK Government to recognize Zaghari-Ratcliffe as a victim of torture. It has sent Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab the 77-page report on her treatment, commissioned from the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims.
Iranian authorities have intentionally inflicted severe suffering on Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe for the purpose of intimidating or coercing the UK Government into negotiating a deal for her release, coercing her into giving a confession, and forcing her to provide information about others.
The UK Government should publicly acknowledge Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe as a victim of torture in Iran, and do everything in its power to protect her from further harm.
Amnesty International is calling for the UK Ambassador in Tehran to visit Zaghari-Ratcliffe before her court hearing on Sunday to show “maximum solidarity”.
The UK Government has said that such a visit is impossible because officials are denied access to legal proceedings, with Iran refusing to recognize dual nationality.