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British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran in state of 'despair'

A British-Iranian woman serving a five-year jail sentence in Tehran on unspecified charges relating to national security is losing her hair and experiencing “low and despairing” moods as her incarceration lasts far beyond her family’s expectation.


Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s conviction was upheld by Iran’s supreme court in April, one year after her arrest. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has told the Guardian that he is now focusing on political pressure, urging the UK government to take up her case more seriously after recent elections in both countries.


Ratcliffe said while his wife’s physical health has become more stable, “she is applying to see a psychologist, as she says her mood is very unstable – quick to sink into depression”.


“We don’t know how long this will last,” he said. “We’ve had Iran’s elections and UK elections and there’s no obvious sign of anything moving, the whole court case is finished, there is basic powerlessness that there’s nothing we can do.”


Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 38, was arrested in April 2016 while she and her then two-year-old daughter, Gabriella, were about to return to the UK after a family visit to Iran. Since then, she has spent most of her time in Tehran’s Evin prison, away from her daughter.


The Revolutionary Guards, the elite forces that arrested her at the airport, have accused her of attempting to orchestrate a “soft overthrow” of the Islamic Republic. Her husband condemned the criminal charges as “a self-serving fabrication”, indicating in a petition update that her imprisonment might be connected to her work as a project manager at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency’s charitable arm, and her previous work at the BBC in London.


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