British woman detained in Iran faces new charges, set to appear in court next month | News | DW | 23.11.2017
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British woman detained in Iran faces new charges, set to appear in court next month

British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe could see her five-year sentence lengthened. The case has become politicized after UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was accused of jeopardizing her defense.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, Richard, said that he had been told of his wife's upcoming court date by Iran's deputy prosecutor on Thursday.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked as a project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF) charity, was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016 after visiting relatives with her young daughter. She was sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of espionage and taking part in the "sedition movement" of protests that followed the disputed 2009 re-election of then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Read more: Nazanin Ratcliffe: a political prisoner?

However, Iranian authorities presented new charges against Zaghari-Ratcliffe last month, which include the spreading of propaganda.

UK Foreign Secretary's unwelcome interventions

The British aid worker's fate has become a major political issue after British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson made remarks that contradicted statements from her employer about what she had been in doing in Iran in the days prior to her arrest.

Johnson told a parliamentary committee on November 1 that he understood Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been training journalists in Iran before her arrest. Her husband, as well as TRF, have denied this was the case, saying she had only been on holiday.

However, Iranian state TV reportedly seized on the foreign secretary's comments, describing them as an "unintended confession" that she was involved in disseminating anti-government propaganda. 

Johnson has been accused of jeopardizing Zaghari-Ratcliffe's defense. He later apologized, albeit 12 days after he made the remarks.

Nazanin Zaghari Iran (Iran-Emrooz/HRANA)

Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe (picture with her husband and child) was summoned back to court after Foreign Secretary Johnson's remarks.

Cancer fears relieved

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held in the women's quarters of Tehran's Evin Prison, after first being held in solitary confinement. Her daughter is currently living with grandparents, after having her passport confiscated.

Richard Ratcliffe revealed on Thursday that his wife had not developed breast cancer as had been recently feared.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe had discovered lumps on her breast, but an examination in a Tehran hospital found that the lumps were just a negative response to a prescribed medication.

Watch video 06:51

Iran's New Era: Unblocking freedom of expression, the press and the internet

dm/se (Reuters, AFP)

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