Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe handcuffed during six-day hospital ordeal in Iran

British charity worker was taken to a psychiatric ward and kept apart from other patients, says family

The campaign for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release has been buffetted by worsening relations between the UK and Iran. Reuters
The campaign for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release has been buffetted by worsening relations between the UK and Iran. Reuters

The detained British charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was handcuffed to a hospital bed throughout a six-day visit to a psychiatric ward on the orders of the Iranian authorities, her husband said on Monday.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, who was been detained since 2016, said she was relieved to be returned to Evin jail on Saturday after being kept apart from other patients, stopped from seeing her relatives and monitored by five guards around the clock.

“It was proper torture,” she said, according to comments released by her family. “It was tough, and I was struggling. But I am glad I survived.”

Her move to a hospital under restricted conditions came as tensions increased between Iran and the UK following the seizure by British marines of a tanker carrying Iranian crude in a suspected operation to supply the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, was arrested in April 2016 as she was leaving Iran after taking her daughter to visit her family.

She was sentenced to five years for unspecified anti-regime activities that state media has linked to her current and former employment with the charitable wings of international news organisations. They suggested she was seeking to undermine the regime.

Her supporters have said she is the pawn of a broader political game that has had profound personal consequences. The family says the medical treatment showed that she was not fit to remain in prison.

Her case was mentioned by foreign office minister Alan Duncan who quit his post on Monday before the announcement of a new party leader and prime minister.

The strong favourite is Boris Johnson who, while foreign secretary, suggested that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran to train journalists. He later apologised for the comments, which her family said worsened her plight and fuelled Iranian media claims that she was seeking to unseat the regime.

In his resignation letter to prime minister Theresa May, Mr Duncan said: “I remain deeply upset that some fruitful discussions I had initiated about the possible release of Nazanin Ratcliffe were brought to such an abrupt halt.”

He did not elaborate. Richard Ratcliffe, the detained woman’s husband, said that he would seek further information from the government.

Updated: July 22, 2019 06:56 PM

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