Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British citizen jailed in Iran on spurious charges since last April, has condemned the Iranian regime for her illegal imprisonment and separation from her family. “The country we were once proud of (Iran) has robbed us both of seeing the golden years of our daughter’s life and accused me of committing (a crime) I have not done and shockingly condemned me to five years in prison, which I have to spend away from you and our dear Gisoo [her toddler daughter],” she wrote in a letter to her husband who lives in the U.K. “I turned 38 without you by my side and you turned 42 without me, while our dear Gisoo turned two-years-old without both of us,” she said in the letter from Iran’s Evin Prison published on March 10, 2017 by the Defenders of Human Rights Center.
Comment: On January 22, the Iranian Judiciary confirmed that a Revolutionary Court in Tehran had upheld a five-year jail term for the British-Iranian charity worker. Judiciary Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje'i did not make public the specific charges against her, but called her a “security convict.”
Intelligence agents of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) arrested Zaghari-Ratcliffe last April on “national security” charges when she was returning home from Tehran Airport. Her child, who was with her at the time of the arrest, has been with her grandparents in Iran ever since. In late December, Iranian officials told her that she should either keep her toddler with her in jail or give up custody. I.R.G.C. officials have accused Zaghari-Ratcliffe of “executing media and online campaigns as a member of foreign organizations” to foment a “soft overthrow” of Iran’s Islamic regime – allegations she and her family have strenuously denied.
Her imprisonment appears to be yet another attempt by I.R.G.C. authorities to extort money from the West. Her husband has also claimed that the I.R.G.C. is using his wife as a “bargaining chip” to secure a decades-old £500 [$620] million debt for a tank deal from the British government. I.R.G.C. intelligence agents have also arrested several Iranian-Americans to use as a leverage for potential prisoner exchanges with Washington and extract political concessions and monetary ransom. In August, the Obama administration reluctantly conceded that it delayed a $400 million payment to Iran “to retain maximum leverage” and ensure that three American prisoners were released the same day. Many Republican lawmakers described the payment as a “ransom.”