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Second Trial For British-Iranian Aid Worker Zaghari-Ratcliffe Held In Tehran


Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe poses for a photo after she was released from house arrest in Tehran on March 7.

A lawyer for British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said that her trial on charges of "propaganda against the system" was held in Tehran.

Lawyer Hojjat Kermani told an Iranian website that the March 14 trial "was held in a calm atmosphere with the presence of my client."

"The legal defense was made," he added. "I am very hopeful that she will be acquitted."

He said he expected the verdict within the next week.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described the new trial as "unacceptable."

"She has been put through a cruel and disgraceful ordeal by the calculating behavior of the Iranian government," Raab said in a statement. "This must end."

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, who has campaigned to secure his wife's release, said in a statement that "at present, Nazanin's future remains uncertain, and her detention effectively open ended."

"The charges are not particularly relevant since the point of reviving this case again last week was simply to hold Nazanin for leverage as negotiations with the U.K. have intensified," Ratcliffe said.

Antonio Zappulla, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, said in a statement that the second trial was a deliberate move to prolong her ordeal and her suffering.

"It is incomprehensible that she faces further trauma as punishment for crimes that she did not commit," he said.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested in Tehran in April 2016. She was later sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran's clerical government.

She served most of her sentence in Tehran's Evin prison, but was released to house arrest in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 7, Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 42, was released from house arrest at the end of her term but was immediately summoned to court again to face the new charge.

She has been barred from leaving the country.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe has denied all the accusations against her.

Iran has arrested dozens of foreigners and dual nationals in recent years on espionage charges that they and their governments say are groundless.

Critics say Iran uses arbitrary detentions as a form of hostage diplomacy to extract concessions from Western governments, which Tehran denies.

On March 10, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Zaghari-Ratcliffe's "continued confinement remains completely unacceptable" and called for her immediate release.

With reporting by Reuters