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U.K.-Iranian Zaghari-Ratcliffe Faces New Charge In Tehran

Updated

British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (file photo)

Iran's state television is reporting that jailed British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is facing a new charge.

Citing an unnamed official, the report said that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was summoned on September 8 by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran and informed about the new indictment.

The report did not provide further details, and Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s lawyer has not immediately commented.

But her local member of parliament in London, Tulip Siddiq, tweeted that she could "confirm that she was taken to court this morning and told she will face another trial" on September 13.

A project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter following a family visit.

She was sentenced to prison after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment following what Amnesty International called a "deeply unfair trial."

In March, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was granted temporary release from Tehran’s Evin prison due to the coronavirus pandemic but she was barred from leaving the country.

Britain has demanded her release and that of other dual nationals imprisoned in Iran. Tehran does not recognize dual citizenship.

Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO Antonio Zappulla condemned the new charge, saying it would prolong Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s "inhumane and unjust ordeal."

Britain's Foreign Office called Iran's action "indefensible and unacceptable."

"We have been consistently clear that she must not be returned to prison," a spokesperson said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.

The new indictment against Zaghari-Ratcliffe comes as London and Tehran negotiate the release of hundreds of millions of dollars frozen by Britain.

The payment was made by Tehran more than 40 years ago for Chieftain tanks.

After the late Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown in 1979, Britain refused to deliver the tanks to the new Islamic Republic but kept the money.

Officials in London and Tehran have denied that Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case is linked to a repayment deal.

However, the British daily The Guardian reported last week that Defense Minister Ben Wallace had acknowledged he was "actively" seeking to repay a debt to Iran to secure the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other Iranian-British detainees.

Britain is believed to owe as much as $530 million to the Iranian government arising from the Chieftain contract.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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