Detained Iranian British woman now accused of 'spreading propaganda'

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Supporters of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe - say the charity worker from Hampstead is facing a new charge in Iran - and that a Judge has told her to expect to be convicted.

Following a special court hearing on Saturday, her husband Richard Radcliffe confirmed that his wife has asked for leniency for the sake of her child but had been told she would most likely face conviction and an extended jail sentence.

"The Judge told Nazanin to expect that likely there will be another conviction and sentence against her".

The Free Nazanin Campaign also said she was allowed to phone the British embassy in Tehran for the first time in two years.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe denies the charges and her family says she has become trapped in a "political standoff" between London and Tehran.

She also added: "I have been a good prisoner for the sake of my baby, and I would ask the judge to close this new case and give me parole - so that I can go home and have another baby and have a normal life".

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Iran's judiciary brought the new case against Zaghari-Ratcliffe in October for additional charges, based on claims of fresh evidence that appear to include a BBC pay stub and contents of her personal email.

According to The Free Nazanin Campaign, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was forced to defend herself after the court refused to approve her choice of lawyer. "I do not want to overthrow the regime", the statement quoted her as saying.

"We urge the UK Government - including the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - to now significantly escalate their response to Nazanin's plight".

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has has been held in Iran since April 2016, is serving a five-year jail sentence in Iran after being convicted of spying.

Asked whether he thought his wife was getting caught up in the worldwide row and was useful to the Iranians, Mr Ratcliffe admitted his wife's case had been political for a long time.

Mr Ratcliffe said: 'The UK needs to do better by British Iranians - at the moment it is failing to protect them.

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"The UK Government remains committed to doing everything possible to help secure Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release and alleviate her suffering".

Kerry Moscogiuri, Amnesty International UK's campaigns director, said the latest trial was "yet another body blow" for Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson declined to discuss the details of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case, but said her husband should feel assured that the Foreign Office was working constantly to resolve it.

She was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport when she and her then 22-month-old daughter, Gabriella, were about to return to the United Kingdom after a family visit.

"We totally reject the renewed accusations that Nazanin is guilty of spreading propaganda against the Iranian regime, and continue to assert that she is 100% innocent", said the foundation's chief executive, Monique Villa.

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