From The Guardian this week:
Boris Johnson accused of ‘dismal failure’ to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Tulip Siddiq MP says PM did not even send UK officials to recent trial where Iran jailed dual national for further year.
Boris Johnson has been accused of a “dismal failure” in his diplomatic efforts after Iran sentenced Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to a further year in jail on top of the five-year sentence she has already served.
Labour’s Tulip Siddiq, the British-Iranian dual national’s MP, questioned the effort the prime minister had put into releasing Zaghari-Ratcliffe, telling the Commons: “From where I’m standing, I’ve seen no evidence on the part of the prime minister so far.
“At the heart of this tragic case is the prime minister’s dismal failure to release my constituent and to stand up for her, and his devastating blunder in 2017 when he was foreign secretary – when he exposed his complete ignorance of this tragic case and put more harm in Nazanin’s way.
“The prime minister did not even arrange for UK officials to attend Nazanin’s recent court hearing, which might have ensured she got a free and fair trial. He still hasn’t got his government to pay the £400m debt that we as a country owe Iran.”
It is one of the most unbridled attacks on the Foreign Office’s handling of the case by the MP, who is deeply frustrated at the government’s inability over five years to have any impact on the Iranian revolutionary courts.
3 April 2016
Arrest in Tehran
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is arrested at Imam Khomeini airport as she is trying to return to Britain after a holiday visiting family with her daughter, Gabriella.
Release campaign begins
Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, delivers a letter to David Cameron in 10 Downing Street demanding that the government do more for her release.
9 September 2016
Zaghari-Ratcliffe is sentenced to five years in jail. Her husband says the exact charges are still being kept a secret.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s health deteriorates after she spends several days on hunger strike in protest at her imprisonment.
1 November 2017
Boris Johnson gives statement used against her in court
The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, tells a parliamentary select committee: “When we look at what [she] was doing, she was simply teaching people journalism.” Four days after his comments, Zaghari-Ratcliffe is returned to court where Johnson’s statement is cited in evidence against her. Her employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, denies she has ever trained journalists, and her family maintain she was in Iran on holiday. Johnson is eventually forced to apologise for the “distress and anguish” his comments caused the family.
12 November 2017
Richard Ratcliffe reveals that his wife has fears for her health after lumps were found in her breasts that required an ultrasound scan. He says she is “on the verge of a nervous breakdown”.
14 January 2019
Zaghari-Ratcliffe again goes on hunger strike, this time in protest at the withdrawal of her medical care.
8 March 2019
Jeremy Hunt, now the foreign secretary, takes the unusual step of granting her diplomatic protection – a move that raises her case from a consular matter to the level of a dispute between the two states.
15 June 2019
Hunger strike in London
Richard Ratcliffe joins his wife in a new hunger strike campaign. He fasts outside the Iranian embassy in London as she begins a third hunger strike in prison.
11 October 2019
Daughter returns to London
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s daughter, Gabriella, who has lived with her grandparents in Tehran and regularly visited her mother in jail over the last three years, returns to London to start school.
17 March 2020
Temporary release during Covid pandemic
Amid the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, Zaghari-Ratcliffe is temporarily released from prison, but she is required to wear an ankle brace and not move more than 300 metres from her parents’ home.
8 September 2020
Iranian state media report that she will appear in court to face new and unspecified charges. In the end, a weekend court appearance on a new charge of waging propaganda against the state, which could leave her incarcerated for another 10 years, is postponed without warning. Zaghari-Ratcliffe says: “People should not underestimate the level of stress. People tell me to calm down. You don’t understand what it is like. Nothing is calm.”
17 March 2021
Freed – but back in court
Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces a second set of charges in Iran’s revolutionary court. She is freed from house arrest at the end of her five-year prison sentence, but because she has been summoned to court again on the other charge, she has not been allowed to leave the country to return to her family.
26 April 2021
Zaghari-Ratcliffe is sentenced to another year in prison after being found guilty of spreading “propaganda against the system” for participating in a protest in front of the Iranian embassy in London in 2009.
Tulip Siddiq MP says PM did not even send UK officials to recent trial where Iran jailed Nazanin, a dual national for further year.
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