Bri­tish-Ira­nian jailed for sedi­tion ‘at break­ing point’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

LON­DON: A Bri­tish-Ira­nian woman serv­ing a five-year jail sen­tence af­ter be­ing ac­cused of sedi­tion in Iran has reached “break­ing point” and con­sid­ered sui­cide, rights group Amnesty said yes­ter­day.

Nazanin Zaghari-Rat­cliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foun­da­tion, was sen­tenced in Septem­ber for tak­ing part in anti-regime protests in 2009, al­though the ex­act charges re­main un­pub­lished. Her hus­band, Richard Rat­cliffe, told Amnesty that her health has “sharply de­te­ri­o­rated in re­cent weeks” and that she had reached “break­ing point”. “He said her spir­its had sunk so low that she even wrote a sui­cide let­ter to him and her fam­ily,” said the state­ment.

Zaghari-Rat­cliffe is suf­fer­ing from heart pal­pi­ta­tions, pain in her hands, arms and shoul­ders and blurred vi­sion, Amnesty said. On Novem­ber 13, she went on hunger strike. “Dur­ing an emer­gency fam­ily visit... Nazanin’s mother col­lapsed when she saw how thin her daugh­ter had be­come since her im­pris­on­ment,” it said. She de­cided to end the hunger strike on Fri­day “for the sake of her baby daugh­ter.”

The UN Work­ing Group on Ar­bi­trary De­ten­tion last month ruled that her ar­rest and im­pris­on­ment had breached sev­eral ar­ti­cles of the In­ter­na­tional Covenant on Civil and Po­lit­i­cal Rights (ICCPR) and Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights (UDHR). Zaghari-Rat­cliffe was ar­rested on April 3, at the end of a visit with her two-year-old daugh­ter Gabriella to see fam­ily mem­bers. Her daugh­ter re­mains in Iran, and is be­ing cared for by her grand­par­ents.

In­fant daugh­ter stranded

Her hus­band fears his wife has be­come a po­lit­i­cal pawn and crit­i­cized Bri­tain’s ef­forts to se­cure her re­lease. “I think the UK is try­ing not to re­spond to that and it’s caught up be­tween the part of Iran that wants to make friends and the part that wants to stop that,” he told a Lon­don press con­fer­ence last month.

Rat­cliffe pointed to Canada’s suc­cess in se­cur­ing the re­lease of Ira­ni­anCana­dian an­thro­pol­o­gist Homa Hood­far, who had been held in the same cell as his wife. Iran’s elite Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards has ac­cused Zaghari-Rat­cliffe of hav­ing taken part in the “sedi­tion move­ment” of wide­spread protests that fol­lowed the 2009 re-elec­tion of for­mer hard­line pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad.

Her daugh­ter Gabriella was born in Bri­tain and has a Bri­tish pass­port, which was con­fis­cated by the Ira­nian au­thor­i­ties, leav­ing her stranded with her grand­par­ents in Iran, which does not rec­og­nize dual-ci­ti­zen­ship. Iran and Bri­tain ap­pointed new am­bas­sadors in Septem­ber for the first time since a mob ran­sacked the Bri­tish em­bassy in Tehran in 2011, as part of a series of mea­sures to boost re­la­tions af­ter last year’s nu­clear deal. —AFP

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