Iranian court rejects final appeal of jailed British-Iranian charity worker

In this Jan. 16, 2017 file photo, Richard Ratcliffe, husband of imprisoned charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, poses for the media during an Amnesty International led vigil outside the Iranian Embassy in London. (AP)
Updated 24 April 2017

Iranian court rejects final appeal of jailed British-Iranian charity worker

DUBAI: Iran’s Supreme Court has upheld a five-year jail sentence for a British-Iranian charity worker who was convicted on unspecified charges relating to national security, her husband said on Monday.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested by the elite Revolutionary Guards in April 2016 at a Tehran airport, as she was about to return to Britain with her two-year-old daughter after a family visit.
Iranian media have said she was convicted of plotting the “soft overthrow” of Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge denied by the Foundation and her family. She was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in September.
Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said the appeal was her last legal opportunity to challenge the sentence.
“Nazanin discovered this weekend that her final appeal at the Supreme Court has failed, and her 5-year sentence has been upheld,” he said in an e-mailed statement, describing his wife as angry but not shocked.
“Her lawyer was told over the phone that there was no more that the Court could do for Nazanin’s case, and the legal review was closed. There was no court hearing for this judgment.”
The Iranian judiciary declined to respond to calls seeking comment.
Ratcliffe said his wife had still not been allowed to know the exact charges on which she was convicted. He urged the British government to publicly call for her release.
“Now it is time for the UK government to say Nazanin is innocent. She was a mum on holiday, who works for a development charity in London,” he said.
The British Foreign Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It has previously expressed “deep concern” over Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s sentence, but has stopped short of calling for her release.
She works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a London-based charity that is independent of Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News. Its chief executive Monique Villa described the rejection of the appeal as a huge blow.
“She is not a spy but an innocent mother who traveled to Iran only to show her baby to her parents. I stand united with Richard in calling for her immediate release. Nazanin has suffered terribly over her past year,” Villa said.
“We continue to be very concerned for her health and wellbeing, and she is desperately missed by her family and all at the Foundation. I ask for clemency.”
Iran refuses to recognize dual nationals and denies them access to consular assistance. The British ambassador to Iran last year visited Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s daughter Gabriella, who has been placed in the care of her Iranian grandparents.
Last year, the United Nations human rights investigator for Iran called for the immediate release of three Iranians with dual nationality, including Zaghari-Ratcliffe.


Iran backtracks on plan to send flight recorders to Ukraine

Updated 10 min 8 sec ago

Iran backtracks on plan to send flight recorders to Ukraine

  • An Iranian official said “the flight recorders from the Ukrainian Boeing are in Iranian hands and we have no plans to send them out”
  • He said Iran is working to recover the data and cabin recordings, and that it may send the flight recorders to Ukrain or France

TEHRAN: The Iranian official leading the investigation into the Ukrainian jetliner that was accidentally shot down by the Revolutionary Guard appeared to backtrack Sunday on plans to send the flight recorders abroad for analysis, a day after saying they would be sent to Kyiv.
Hassan Rezaeifar was quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency as saying “the flight recorders from the Ukrainian Boeing are in Iranian hands and we have no plans to send them out.”
He said Iran is working to recover the data and cabin recordings, and that it may send the flight recorders — commonly known as black boxes — to Ukraine or France. “But as of yet, we have made no decision.”
The same official was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Saturday as saying the recorders would be sent to Ukraine, where French, American and Canadian experts would help analyze them. Iranian officials previously said the black boxes were damaged but are usable.
It was not immediately possible to reconcile the conflicting accounts. Iran may be hesitant to turn over the recorders for fear that more details from the crash — including the harrowing 20 seconds between when the first and second surface-to-air missiles hit the plane — will come to light.
The Guard’s air defenses shot the plane down shortly after it took off from Tehran on Jan. 8, killing all 176 people on board. Hours earlier, the Guard had launched ballistic missiles at US troops in Iraq in response to the US airstrike that killed Iran’s top general in Baghdad. Officials say lower-level officers mistook the plane for a US cruise missile.
Iranian officials initially said the crash was caused by a technical problem and invited countries that lost citizens to help investigate. Three days later, Iran admitted responsibility after Western leaders said there was strong evidence the plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile.
The victims included 57 Canadian citizens as well as 11 Ukrainians, 17 people from Sweden, four Afghans and four British citizens. Most of those killed were Iranians. The other five nations have demanded Iran accept full responsibility and pay compensation to the victims’ families.
The plane was a Boeing 737-800 that was designed and built in the US The plane’s engine was designed by CFM International, a joint company between French group Safran and US group GE Aviation. Investigators from both countries have been invited to take part in the probe.