Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian woman who has been detained in Iran since 2016 on spying charges and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, has been denied medical treatment after refusing to allow a Revolutionary Guard to supervise her gynecological appointment, according to her husband Richard Ratcliffe.
Speaking to Kayhan Life, Ratcliffe said, “Iranian Revolutionary Guards wanted Nazanin to wear handcuffs and for them to be inside the consultation room. She called her lawyer who told her that both requirements were illegal for someone on furlough.”
“The guards then said they would relax the handcuff requirement, but would not let her attend the doctors privately. So she refused, partly because it brought back memories of the time she was taken to hospital in chains last year, and kept there alone chained to the bed, surrounded by all those armed guards,” he said.
In March, Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was released on furlough because of the Coronavirus pandemic, and has been living at her parents’ home in Tehran.
Shortly before her release date, Iranian authorities launched a second court case against the British dual national for “spreading propaganda against the regime.” The case was set for trial last Sunday, but it was postponed by Iran’s judiciary on the same day without explanation. A new date for the trial has not been confirmed.
The British government condemned the latest court case against the mother of one, calling it “groundless,” and asked the Iranian government to release her, in a statement published earlier this week by the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson.
Her husband said Nazanin was living in a “permanent state of anxiety” in a press release issued earlier this week by the Free Nazanin advocacy group, which is supported by Amnesty International. Nazanin told her husband, “This morning I just wanted to scream out loud for 10 minutes, or to bang my head against the wall — just to let it out. I really can’t take it anymore.”
“I do not sleep at all while the case is hanging over me. This morning I wanted to get it over with — to know where I stand now,” she added.
The press release also said current developments in Nazanin’s case are part of a “game of cat and mouse between governments, with us living life as a piece of bait.”
The new trial is the first since diplomatic protection was invoked for Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Instead of consular assistance — the standard course of action when a British citizen is detained overseas — diplomatic protection allows the government to treat the case as a legal dispute between Britain and the Islamic Republic.
The protection effectively elevates the case’s status to one involving the British state and not just an individual citizen.
Ratcliffe said the UK Foreign Office had sent a request in writing to the Iranian judiciary to attend Nazanin’s upcoming trial after he pressured the U.K. government.
A meeting with the Foreign Office and Ratcliffe has been scheduled, in which Ratcliffe hopes to get confirmation from the government that British officials will either attend any future hearings for Nazanin, or condemn the court case if diplomatic representatives are unable to sit in on the trial.
Ratcliffe had intended to meet with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif this week before his trip to the UK was abruptly cancelled.
“I had asked the Foreign Office to arrange a meeting for us, and I was intending on making it clear to him that I felt it was brazen of him to show his face under the circumstances,” he said.
“I suspect the reason the trip was cancelled, was because of Navid Afkari’s execution, and knowing that he would be met with profound shock and outrage wherever he went,” he added.
Navid Afkari, an award winning wrestler, was sentenced to two death penalties after taking part in protests in Iran, and was executed last week. The execution has sparked global outrage.