Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Husband calls for UN to intervene as wife is ‘tortured’ in Iran jail
Campaigners from the charity Redress told the UN special rapporteur on torture how Zaghari - who has spent almost 700 days in detention - has been subjected to instances of abuse, which “strongly suggest” her treatment in jail at the hands of Iranian authorities amounts to psychological torture.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has a 21-month-old daughter, was arrested in April 2016 over allegations that she attempted to overthrow the state, which she denies. Writing on behalf of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, the campaigners described in the UN submission how the British-Iranian woman had been held in solitary confinement for more than eight months at Kerman Central Prison.
Describing the degrading conditions in which Zaghari was being held captive, the report states: “During her 44 days of solitary confinement in Kerman, Mrs Zaghari-Radcliffe was detained in a small cell measuring 1.5m x 3m [with] no window and no natural light or air.
“The only times she was permitted out of her cell were for interrogation. The lights in the cell were kept on permanently.”
The fact that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was also kept from seeing her family for 37 days also took a toll on the defendant’s wellbeing. “This is of particular concern,” the submission says.
“At that point, Gabriella had not been completely weaned and Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was still breastfeeding.”
It was also highlighted how Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s “physical and psychological health sharply deteriorated” after she was falsely told that her family had abandoned her. “She had great difficulty walking, and her hair began to fall out,” the report reads.
Campaigners believe Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has dual British-Iranian citizenship, is being used as a tool by Iran to pressure the UK government into paying back a £450 million ($626 million) debt dating back to a 1970s arms deal.
In a letter to the UN’s Professor Nils Melzer, the charity writes: “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.”
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