The dual British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is the victim of “psychological torture” at the hands of the Iranian regime, her husband has said, as her hopes of being granted clemency were dashed for the second time in a week.
The 41-year-old mother had been left “deflated”, “unsettled” and desperate to see her five-year-old daughter, Gabriella, in England, Richard Ratcliffe said.
“It is fair to say that what Nazanin has gone through amounts to psychological torture,” he told the Observer.
“The supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] has granted clemency to everyone who meets certain criteria. Nazanin meets the criteria.” But, according to her lawyers, there is a dispute between the judiciary, who are trying to uphold the law, and the Revolutionary Guard.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent last week having nightmares, Ratcliffe said, as she waited to discover her fate yesterday. “There’s no news today,” was all she was told.
“The Revolutionary Guard have had no problem making a mockery of Iranian law,” said Ratcliffe. “But this is the first time we’ve had a situation where not only is the Iranian foreign ministry, behind closed doors, trying to solve this for diplomatic purposes, but also the judiciary are trying to solve this case.”
He added that there had been days over the past week when he just “couldn’t cope at all”, while his wife had been feeling “hope and dread at the same time”.
Khamenei announced earlier this year that pardons would be given to anyone imprisoned five years or less, who had served a third of their sentence and been furloughed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Zaghari-Ratcliffe has served nearly four of her five-year sentence and was furloughed from prison to her parents’ Tehran home on 17 March. She has been forced to wear an ankle tag and remain within 300 metres of her parents’ home ever since.
Ratcliffe fears that if his wife is not given a pardon over the next 10 days, it will not happen at all. “I think we’re very close …. But we’re also preparing, behind closed doors, for the worst.”
His wife, he explained, is “very anxious” that she will be sent back to prison. “Next week is the decision week. By law, they [the Iranian judiciary] have to give clemency. If they want to take their law seriously, then it has to happen.”
Until that day, he can do nothing but cling on to hope. “We’ve not seen any indication that Iranian law is being followed on Nazanin’s case. What we’ve seen is that she’s a bargaining chip… But my hope is that behind closed doors, the British government and the Iranian government are reaching an understanding – which is that she can come home.”