Iran court tries British-Iranian aid worker on new charge one week after sentence completion News
mostafa_meraji / Pixabay
Iran court tries British-Iranian aid worker on new charge one week after sentence completion

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court on Sunday tried British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on a new charge of making “propaganda against the system” one week after she completed a five-year jail sentence.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested in April 2016 on charges of spying and later convicted of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment. She was released last March and kept under house arrest until last Sunday as she served out most of her five-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison. The authorities removed her ankle tag last week but immediately summoned her to court again on a new charge.

The propaganda charge, which Iranian authorities had also tried to introduce previously on two separate occasions, relates to her alleged participation in a rally in front of the Iranian embassy in London following the 2009 disputed election results and giving an interview to the BBC Persian TV channel at the same time.

Article 500 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code provides that “anyone who engages in any type of propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran or in support of opposition groups and associations, shall be sentenced from three months to one year of imprisonment.”

The charges were denied by her family and the charity foundation that operates independently of media firm Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters. According to Antonio Zappulla, CEO of the foundation, the second trial “is a deliberate move to prolong her ordeal and her suffering.”

“It is unacceptable and unjustifiable that Iran has chosen to continue with this second, wholly arbitrary, case against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe,” British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab stated. “The Iranian government has deliberately put her through a cruel and inhumane ordeal.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s lawyer Hojjat Kermani said he expected the verdict within the next week before Nowruz, the Iranian New Year’s day falling on March 20, or it may be postponed to after the holidays.