British-Iranian aid worker to stand trial in Iran for alleged espionage

British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is facing charges today in Iran’s Revolutionary Court for spreading propaganda against the regime. Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Iran espionage case

Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images

British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is facing charges today in Iran’s Revolutionary Court for spreading propaganda against the regime.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 and charged with attempting to overthrow the government by training journalists to spread anti-regime propaganda. The UK Foreign Office has stated the new charges are indefensible and unacceptable. As her initial five-year sentence is nearing its end, the new charges are seen as an attempt to extend Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imprisonment. The aid worker has been used as a political bargaining chip in an attempt to force London to refund £400 million spent by the pre-revolutionary Shah Pahlavi regime on tanks. Owing to the 1979 Revolution, the order was never delivered.

It is likely that Zaghari-Ratcliffe will be found guilty to put further pressure on London to repay the debt. Should that occur, there will likely be increased public outcry in the UK and a further breakdown of British-Iranian relations. It is possible that the UK’s recent acknowledgement of the debt may aid the defence and lead to reduced charges, but it is unlikely Zaghari-Ratcliffe or other UK nationals will be freed until payment is made, which is likely in the medium term.

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