Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Iranian-Briton to get diplomatic protection

Cheryl Sanders
March 10, 2019

In reaching his decision, Mr Hunt said he had taken into account Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's "unacceptable treatment" by Iran since she was detained in 2016, including the denial of medical treatment and the lack of due process in the proceedings against her.

"This represents formal recognition by the British Government that her treatment fails to meet Iran's obligations under worldwide law and elevates it to a formal state-to-state issue".

Diplomatic protection is a rarely-used mechanism allowing nations to seek protection on behalf of its citizens on the grounds that they have been wronged by another state, according to Britain's foreign office.

Iran refuses to recognise dual nationals so does not recognise Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's right to be represented by Britain.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed for five years in September 2016 for supposedly planning to topple the Iranian government - charges she vehemently denies.

IRAN has accused Britain of breaking global law by taking the rare step of granting diplomatic protection to a dual British-Iranian mother jailed in Teheran over spy allegations.

Richard Ratcliffe told reporters in January that the Iranian authorities were trying to make Zaghari-Ratcliffe spy on the British government for them, once she is released from jail.

"It sends a very strong message to Iran: You are a great civilisation, you may have disagreements with the United Kingdom, but at the heart of this is an innocent woman, vulnerable, unwell and scared", Hunt said.

A photo of Zaghari-Ratcliffe is seen amongst candles during a fourth birthday vigil for her daughter Gabriella opposite the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on June 11, 2018. "Now it's also the British government's case and all the injustices that happen to Nazanin are effectively injustices against the British government". Before her arrest, she was a project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation and lived in London.

The status means her case will become a formal worldwide legal matter between Iran and Britain. It will hopefully be the first step towards finally ensuring that Nazanin is freed, and that she and her daughter are reunited with their husband and father in the UK.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe has suffered from health issues, including undergoing tests for breast cancer and a series of panic attacks, while her emotional state has worsened during her confinement.

It is a move that will ratchet up the pressure on the Iranian authorities, who have held Nazanin as a political prisoner in the notorious Evin prison for nearly three years.

Mr Hunt said the move was unlikely to be a "magic wand" to get her release but was an "important diplomatic step".

It comes after she went on hunger strike earlier this year to demand access to doctors.

She maintains her innocence, and says she was on holiday in Iran taking her daughter Gabriella to visit her parents.

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