NAZANIN Zaghari-Ratcliffe has lost her latest appeal in Iran, meaning she could be sent back to prison “at any time”, her MP has said.

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq said Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s sentence of one year plus a one-year travel ban has been “upheld with no court hearing”.

The Hampstead and Kilburn MP has urged prime minister Boris Johnson and his Government to intervene in the case.

Ms Siddiq said: “This is yet another piece of devastating news for my constituent, her family and the millions around the world who care about her.

“For Nazanin to face a return to prison after the ordeal she’s been through is nothing short of a catastrophe.

“It seems that every time we dare to hope that Nazanin might soon be free, there is another dreadful setback that puts freedom out of sight.

“Whatever the prime minister has been doing to free Nazanin is clearly not working.

“It’s time for the UK Government to pay the debt we owe to Iran, stand up to their despicable hostage taking and finally get Nazanin home.”

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national whose sister-in-law Rebecca Ratcliffe is a GP in Cwmbran, has been in custody in the country since 2016 after being accused of plotting to overthrow the government.


She was taking her daughter Gabriella to see her family when she was arrested and was sentenced to five years in prison shortly afterwards, spending four years in Evin Prison and one under house arrest.

According to her family, she was told by Iranian authorities that she was being detained because of the UK’s failure to pay an outstanding £400 million debt to Iran.

She finished her sentence earlier this year but was then convicted of “spreading propaganda against the regime”.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe launched an appeal over the conviction and had been staying with her parents in the country while waiting for the result.

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe, Ms Siddiq and Amnesty International have been campaigning for her release for several years.

Mr Ratcliffe told the PA news agency: “Technically, she’s now just waiting for the phone call, saying ‘Turn up at this prison on this day’.

South Wales Argus: Richard Ratcliffe near his home in Hampstead, London. Richard's wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has been detained in Iran since 2016, when she was sentenced to five years in prison over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Iran

“Essentially, there’s a sword hanging over us now, it will at some point fall down.

“It’s hard to know when, and it’s hard to know what could stop it falling at this point.

“It’s clearly a signal that the ball’s in the Government’s court to do something.”

He added the family is now thinking “what they can do to protect Nazanin” once she is in prison, but added he “does not have any clear answers on that at this point”.

Mr Ratcliffe also criticised the Government’s handling of his wife’s case, stating that it “does not deal with problems until they become crises”.

Mr Ratcliffe said he held a strategy meeting with the Foreign Office on Friday as he was concerned something would happen to his wife’s appeal during the autumn.

The next day, by coincidence, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was informed her appeal had been rejected, meaning she could now be sent back to prison at any point to serve a sentence of one year imprisonment plus a one-year travel ban for “spreading propaganda against the regime”.

Mr Ratcliffe said he had urged the Government to take quicker action over trying to get Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe home in their meeting on Friday as he was concerned about the outcome of her appeal.

He told the PA news agency: “The longer we waited, the more chance of bad news. I didn’t expect the next day to get bad news, but we did.

“That’s [the rejection of the appeal] the Iranians signalling they’re not prepared to wait forever and they will do what they need to do.

“Is this going to be a wake-up call for the Government? Maybe, maybe not. One of the challenges I find with this Government is that it doesn’t deal with problems until they become crises. This is Iran threatening a crisis. One hopes that the Government takes it seriously.”

Mr Ratcliffe, said he was left surprised by the update on Saturday.

He said he thought her appeal would have ended up being rejected in November after a “drawn-out court process” as Iran was “always going to confirm guilt, regardless of whether there is any”.

In a statement on Saturday, foreign secretary Liz Truss said the nation’s decision to proceed with the “baseless” charges against the mother-of-one was an “appalling continuation of the cruel ordeal she is going through”.

She added: “We are doing all we can to help Nazanin get home to her young daughter and family and I will continue to press Iran on this point.”

Mr Ratcliffe said Ms Truss had spoken to Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe on the phone on Saturday after her appeal was rejected.

Responding to the statement, Mr Ratcliffe said: “Nazanin said that she sounded angry on the phone and I can hear the anger in her words.

“But at this stage I am interested in her latest sentence, ‘the actions she is taking beyond more pressing Iran’.”

Amnesty International UK chief executive Sacha Deshmukh called for the Government to set out a “clear strategy” for securing the release of all British nationals “unlawfully” held in Iran.

He said: “This is terrible news and is just more torment on top of five-and-a-half years of suffering for Nazanin and her family.

“Nazanin was subjected to a deeply unfair original trial, was rushed through a farcical second court process and is now confronted by more time behind bars, it’s absolutely excruciating to see this happening.”

The Foreign Office declined to comment further.