FILE PHOTO: Richard Ratcliffe, husband of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and their daughter Gabriella protest outside the Iranian Embassy in London, Britain March 8, 2021. REUTERS
The trial of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe at Iran’s Revolutionary court was held on Sunday, her lawyer Hojjat Kermani told Reuters, hoping she would be acquitted from the charge of “propaganda against the system”.
“Her trial was held at branch 15 of the Revolutionary court. Her charge is propaganda against the system,” Kermani said, adding that “Zaghari-Ratcliffe was fine and calm at the court session”.
“The trial was held in a calm atmosphere. The final defence was taken. Legally, the court should announce the verdict in a week but it is up to the judge. I am very hopeful that she will be acquitted.”
The Iranian Judiciary was not immediately available to comment.
Iran had released Zaghari-Ratcliffe from house arrest last Sunday at the end of a five-year prison sentence, but she had been summoned to court again on the other charge.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at a Tehran airport in April 2016 and later convicted of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment.
Her family and the foundation, a charity that operates independently of media firm Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters, deny the charge.
The foundation was not immediately available for comment on Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s trial.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who served out most of her sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison, was released last March during the coronavirus pandemic and kept under house arrest, but her movements were restricted and she was barred from leaving the country.
Last Sunday, Iranian authorities removed her ankle tag, but she still could not leave Iran.
Asked whether she could leave the country, Kermani said:”I don’t know about her travel ban situation.”
British foreign minister Dominic Raab welcomed the removal of the ankle tag but said Iran continued to put Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family through a “cruel and an intolerable ordeal”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a call with Iranian Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday, said Zaghari-Ratcliffe must be allowed to return home to her family.
Iranian media reported that during the call, Rouhani raised the issue of a 400-million-pound historical debt which Tehran says Britain owes the Islamic Republic in capital and interest for a 1970s arms deal with the then-Shah of Iran.