Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘to face second trial’ in Iran on new charges

A detained British-Iranian aid worker sentenced to five years in jail in Iran is to face a second trial on new charges, according to reports in Iran.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 39, has been in prison for two years on charges of “spreading propaganda against the state”. 

She was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport when she and her then 22-month-old daughter, Gabriella, were about to return to the UK after a family visit.

During her first trial, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency, was accused of running “a BBC Persian online journalism course” and seeking a “soft overthrow” of the Islamic Republic.

Last week she was brought to court again, although the authorities denied then that she was to face a second trial.

Nazanin Zahari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard and their daughter Gabriella

Iran’s judiciary brought the new case against Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe in October for additional charges, based on claims of fresh evidence that appear to include a BBC pay stub and contents of her personal email.

However, by December, the case appeared to have been stopped when Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, visited Tehran and authorities later said the new trial had been cancelled.

According to her husband, Richard, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe said: “Going back to the revolutionary court gives me such a fit. I don’t want to go there again. It looks like a definite new sentence, which is nonsense, but it is not clear what is going on. It looks like they are just buying time.”

Musa Ghazanfarabadi, head of Tehran Revolutionary Court, confirmed the news of the second trial on to the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Saturday.

"Ghazanfarabadi said the charge against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in the new case is security-related but did not say whether it was espionage or another charge," Tasnim reported.