Husband of detained UK-Iranian urges govt help after new charges

Richard Ratcliffe (L), husband of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, his daughter Gabriella (C) and his mother Barbara, pose outside of 10 Downing Street in central London to meet with Britain's PM Boris Johnson. (File/AFP)
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Updated 09 September 2020

Husband of detained UK-Iranian urges govt help after new charges

  • Ratcliffe said in a statement that “it has become increasingly clear the past months that Nazanin is a hostage, held as leverage against a UK debt”
  • Possible links have been drawn in the UK and Iran between Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s detention and a British debt

LONDON: The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman detained in Tehran, on Wednesday called on the British government to do “everything to protect her” after Iran announced that she faces fresh charges.

Richard Ratcliffe said in a statement that “it has become increasingly clear the past months that Nazanin is a hostage, held as leverage against a UK debt.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe has already spent more than four years in jail or under house arrest since she was detained at Tehran airport on sedition charges in April 2016 after visiting relatives in Iran with her young daughter.
On Tuesday, Iranian state television’s website Iribnews reported: “The 15th chamber of the Islamic Revolutionary Court summoned Nazanin Zaghari this morning with her lawyer... to notify them of a new indictment.”
The report cited “an informed source” but gave no further details on the charges or trial date.
Ratcliffe, said in a statement that “It is important that the UK government does everything to protect her and others as Iran’s hostage diplomacy continues to escalate.”
“This starts with the British embassy insisting it is able to attend Nazanin’s trial on Sunday.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who at the time worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation — the media organization’s philanthropic arm — was convicted on sedition charges, which she denies, and sentenced to a five-year jail term.
Tulip Siddiq, the British MP for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s constituency, tweeted that she had been in touch with the detainee, and confirmed that “she was taken to court this morning and told she will face another trial on Sunday.”
Britain’s foreign ministry said bringing new charges was “indefensible and unacceptable.”
“We have been consistently clear that she must not be returned to prison,” a ministry spokesperson said.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been on temporary release from Evin prison in Tehran and under house arrest since earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Possible links have been drawn in the UK and Iran between Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s detention and a British debt dating back more than 40 years, to when the shah of Iran paid the UK £400 million for 1,500 Chieftain tanks.
When the shah was ousted in 1979, Britain refused to deliver the tanks to the new Islamic Republic but kept the money.


UK sees rise in Islamist extremist cases referred to counter radicalization program

Updated 27 November 2020

UK sees rise in Islamist extremist cases referred to counter radicalization program

  • Cases involving Islamist extremism increase for first time in four years
  • Program aims to spot people who could go on to commit terrorist acts

LONDON: The number of people referred to the UK government’s counter extremism program has jumped amid concerns over increased radicalization among young people.
Cases involving Islamist extremism increased by 6 percent from 1,404 to 1,487. The numbers, which represent individuals of concern referred to the Prevent scheme between April 2019 and March 2020, mark the first year-on-year increase for Islamist cases since 2016.
While far-right cases remained steady compared to the previous year at 1,388, overall the number of people referred to the program rose 10 percent.
The rise in Islamist cases comes after a recent surge of attacks across Europe. Last month a school teacher was beheaded by an extremist after he had shown his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a freedom of speech discussion. Days later, three people were killed in a terrorist attack at a church in Nice.
In the UK, three people were killed in a knife attack on London Bridge almost a year ago.
The UK’s Prevent program is part of its wider counter-terrorism strategy and aims to safeguard people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.
The most serious cases are referred to a panel known as “Channel,” which then decides what further action to take. Of the 697 cases that reached the panel, most were related to the far-right (302), while 210 were linked to Islamist extremism. 
More than half of all referrals were aged under 20.
Security Minister James Brokenshire said the Prevent strategy was an essential strand to the UK’s counter-terror strategy.
“It is about supporting vulnerable individuals, steering them away from terrorism, and protecting our communities,” he told the Royal United Services Institute on Thursday.
Last week the head of counter-terror policing in the UK, Neil Basu, said that while Islamist terrorists remained the greatest threat to Britain, the far right is growing faster.
He said COVID-19 had created a “perfect storm” with young and vulnerable people spending more time alone and online.