Treat­ment of Iran-jail mum ‘tor­ture’, say cam­paign­ers

Western Mail - - NEWS - Jemma Crew news­desk@waleson­

ABRITISH mother de­tained in Iran over al­le­ga­tions she plot­ted to over­throw the gov­ern­ment is be­ing sub­jected to psy­cho­log­i­cal tor­ture from “the whole ar­moury of the state”, her sup­port­ers be­lieve.

Nazanin Zaghari-Rat­cliffe, who is en­ter­ing her 683rd day in prison, has been the vic­tim of “psy­cho­log­i­cal abuse” which meets United Na­tions cri­te­ria for tor­ture, ac­cord­ing to cam­paign­ers call­ing for her re­lease.

The dual UK-Ira­nian na­tional, who was de­tained on April 3, 2016, while vis­it­ing her par­ents with her daugh­ter, Gabriella, is said to have spent eight and a half months in soli­tary con­fine­ment be­fore mov­ing to a gen­eral ward.

The 39-year-old’s treat­ment is also said to have in­cluded re­peated threats to take away her daugh­ter or against oth­ers sup­port­ing her dur­ing the ini­tial months af­ter she was de­tained, as well as de­nial of vis­its, phone calls and med­i­cal ser­vices, and bro­ken prom­ises of re­lease.

The char­ity Re­dress, which has writ­ten to the UN spe­cial rap­por­teur on tor­ture on be­half of the Free Nazanin cam­paign, said ev­i­dence “strongly sug­gests” the treat­ment of the mother of one amounts to tor­ture.

She de­nies the al­le­ga­tions, and her fam­ily be­lieve she is be­ing used by the Ira­nian author­i­ties as a diplo­matic “tool of pres­sure”.

Re­dress said her treat­ment was be­ing in­flicted to co­erce the British gov­ern­ment into se­cur­ing a deal for her re­lease and to force her to con­fess or pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about oth­ers.

It has writ­ten to Pro­fes­sor Nils Melzer re­fer­ring to a “state-or­ches­trated cam­paign” in­volv­ing agen­cies in­clud­ing Iran’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary guard, ju­di­ciary and state tele­vi­sion ser­vice.

The let­ter reads: “While it has se­ri­ous ef­fects on her phys­i­cal health, the com­bined ef­fect of this cam­paign has been to ex­ert con­sis­tently max­i­mum psy­cho­log­i­cal pres­sure on Mrs Zaghari-Rat­cliffe, to de­mor­alise her and put her in a sit­u­a­tion of com­plete pow­er­less­ness.

“The treat­ment has been in­flicted on her over an ex­tended pe­riod of time, and while she was, and con­tin­ues to be, at her most vul­ner­a­ble, a re­cent mother, in prison abroad and away from her fam­ily in the United King­dom, with­out con­sular ac­cess and with­out al­low­ing her fam­ily to visit.”

Her hus­band, Richard Rat­cliffe, said he spoke to his wife on the phone on Tues­day, and that she was “not as bleak as she was a few weeks back, but she’s very up and down”.

The 43-year-old, from Hamp­stead, north Lon­don, said: “It’s very hard for both of us to be hope­ful at this point. We were ob­vi­ously very hope­ful at Christ­mas (for her re­lease) and it didn’t hap­pen. “It feels like we’re just be­ing gamed.” He said there had been more than half a dozen di­rect as­sur­ances and fewer clear in­di­ca­tions his wife would be re­leased, and that he had re­sumed cam­paign­ing be­cause “we can’t keep wait­ing in the door­way of our dreams, wait­ing for the gov­ern­ments to de­liver”.

Mr Rat­cliffe’s sis­ter, Re­becca Jones, is a GP liv­ing in Cardiff and work­ing in Cwm­bran.

The for­mer char­ity worker is said to be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der and sui­ci­dal ten­den­cies.

> Nazanin Zaghari-Rat­cliffe be­fore her im­pris­on­ment, with her daugh­ter, Gabriella, who is now aged three

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