Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a British-Iranian charity worker who has been imprisoned in Iran since April for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government, but her husband Richard Ratcliffe claims she is being used as a “bargaining chip” for a 40-year-old arms debt that Britain is refusing to pay. He says that the British government does not have his “family’s best interest at heart” and has started a Change.org petition calling on the U.K. Foreign Office to secure her release, which has attracted almost 850,000 signatures. Criticizing the government for its “strange behavior,” he claims that his family has become “collateral damage” in the U.K.’s refusal to pay Iran the £400M it had been ordered to hand back by a European court in 2010 over an arms deal that took place before the Iranian Revolution. He disputes claims that they are not able to repay the money because of E.U. sanctions against Iran, claiming it is a “ruse” as “we have spent almost 40 years finding ways not to pay the Iranians back.” However, the U.K. Foreign Office says it’s doing everything within its power to help the aid worker, whose health is deteriorating.
The 37-year old recently ended a five-day hunger strike “for the sake of her daughter”, who is staying with her parents in Iran and unable to return to the U.K. without Nazanin. Amnesty International has also pressed the U.K. government on fighting to secure her freedom, calling Nazanin’s detention a “travesty of justice”. “Theresa May says the Government is doing everything possible over Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s deeply troubling case, but far more can and should be done and the Government shouldn’t rest until she’s brought home,” said Kathy Voss, a campaign manager for the human rights organization. “Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a prisoner of conscience languishing in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison following an unfair trial on bogus ‘national security’ charges – the U.K. should be publicly calling for her release and return to the U.K., not paying lip service to a miscarriage of justice.”
Read the full story at The Independent.