Jailed Brit Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘faces mental torture in Iranian prison’

British mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being subjected to psychological torture and suffering in an Iranian prison where she has been held for nearly two years, her supporters say.

The dual UK-Iranian national was detained in Iran while visiting her parents with her daughter Gabriella and jailed over allegations she plotted to overthrow the government and has been in prison for 683 days.

The 39-year-old is said to have spent eight-and-a half months in solitary confinement before moving to a general ward.

Her treatment is also said to have included repeated threats to take away her daughter and threats against her supporters, as well as denial of visits, phone calls and medical services, and broken promises of release.

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe and supporters have asked the UN to intervene, claiming she is being tortured by "the whole armoury of the state" with tactics that meet the UN’s criteria for torture.

Mr Ratcliffe has told how "it feels like we’re just being gamed", amid supporters’ claims that his wife is being used as a political pawn.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who lives in London, has been held by Iranian authorities since April 3, 2016, when she was arrested at the airport in Tehran after a holiday with her then 22-month-old daughter Gabriella.

She was sentenced to five years in prison after being charged with planning to topple the Iranian government.

The mum has denied the accusations and insisted she was visiting family with her young daughter, who remains in Iran with relatives.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family believe she is being used by the Iranian authorities as a diplomatic "tool of pressure".

Mr Ratcliffe, who has written to the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, said he spoke to his wife on the phone on Tuesday, and that she was "not as bleak as she was a few weeks back, but she’s very up and down".

The 43-year-old, from Hampstead, north London, said: "It’s very hard for both of us to be hopeful at this point. We were obviously very hopeful at Christmas (for her release) and it didn’t happen.

"It’s always good to hold on to the ‘maybe’, but also part of us putting in the submission now is because it feels like we’re just being gamed."

Mr Ratcliffe, who appeared on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday, said there had been more than half a dozen direct assurances and less clear indications his wife would be released, and that he had resumed campaigning because "we can’t keep waiting in the doorway of our dreams, waiting for the governments to deliver".

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a former charity worker, is said to be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, giving rise to "darkly negative feelings", "uncontrollable bouts of anger", and suicidal tendencies.

She has also experienced difficulty walking and suffered extreme hair and weight loss.

The charity Redress, which has written to the UN special rapporteur on torture on behalf of the Free Nazanin campaign, said evidence "strongly suggests" the treatment of the mother-of-one amounts to torture.

Redress said her treatment was being inflicted to coerce the British Government into securing a deal for her release and to force her to confess or provide information about others.

It has written to Professor Nils Melzer, the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, referring to a "state-orchestrated campaign" involving agencies including Iran’s revolutionary guard, judiciary and state television service.

The letter reads: "While it has serious effects on her physical health, the combined effect of this campaign has been to exert consistently maximum psychological pressure on Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, to demoralise her and put her in a situation of complete powerlessness.

"The treatment has been inflicted on her over an extended period of time, and while she was, and continues to be, at her most vulnerable, a recent mother, in prison abroad and away from her family in the United Kingdom, without consular access and without allowing her family to visit."

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family were hopeful that she would be released before Christmas after her lawyer told her that a judiciary computer database which records the status of cases indicated that she was eligible for release.

However she remains in prison in Iran.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson flew to Tehran in December to seek her release after he made a gaffe in the House of Commons that threatened to add more time to her prison sentence.

He was condemned and forced to apologise after wrongly telling MPs in November that she was training journalists in Iran.

During his trip to Tehran, the Foreign Secretary met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other senior officials including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Source: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/jailed-brit-nazanin-zaghari-ratcliffe-12022892

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