The British-Iranian woman being held in Tehran is facing another court date on charges of spreading propaganda, dashing her husband’s hopes she and their daughter could be home by Christmas.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 38, was arrested last April in Tehran and faces the threat of having her imprisonment extended after Boris Johnson mistakenly said she was in the country training journalists. She was actually on holiday.
Earlier this month, Johnson met her husband Richard Ratcliffe to apologise for his comments and discussed the family’s call for the Government up its efforts to secure her release.
Ratcliffe said he wanted her and their daughter Gabriella, who has been in Iran with her grandparents since the arrest, to be home by Christmas.
In a heartbreaking HuffPost UK interview, he described how he was keeping their Hampstead flat exactly as it was when she was last there, so she had “real life” to return to.
But she is now due to face a further hearing on December 10, dashing hopes for her early release.
Ratcliffe told HuffPost UK he “hadn’t given up hope” of seeing his wife again before Christmas but said he was “surprised” the case was going ahead.
The rnews provoked more anger at Johnson, who has been blamed for jeopardising her situation.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s time in prison and solitary confinement has left her suffering from PTSD and depression, while she has “long bouts of insomnia, and remains traumatised by the loss of her child”, the campaign for her release has said.
The Foreign Office suggested the latest hearing related to allegations that came before Johnson’s error.
A spokeswoman told HuffPost UK: “We understand that a further court hearing has been announced in Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case and is expected to deal with allegations already on file.”
Ratcliffe told HuffPost he did not know what evidence would be presented but said Johnson’s comments could be included.
She remains in Evin prison in Tehran. She recently found lumps in her breast but doctors have said these are unlikely to be cancerous.
Speaking via the campaign for her release, Zaghari-Ratcliffe described the “torture” of seeing constant “lies” about her case on Iranian TV, which have grown since Johnson’s error.
She said: “It is torture to keep hearing these lies on TV. I get very agitated by all the press attention in Iran. I feel like I don’t have the capacity to do this anymore.
“It has been so long they have been pressuring me, and then all this these past two weeks. I do not have the strength.
“People tell me here it is all about politics. But I don’t care about the politics.
Surely I can be released on humanitarian grounds? There are humanitarian
grounds for my baby and for me?”
Ratcliffe told HuffPost Iranian TV had claimed falsely his wife had worked at the BBC and focussed on the fact she attended university in Britain as evidence against her.
She has spent much of the last few weeks making clothes, unable to focus on many tasks because of her mental health, including a pair of slippers, a baby’s jumper and pinafore for Gabriella.
On Saturday, actress Emma Thompson and Hampstead MP Tulip Siddiq will address a “mum’s march” of local women calling for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release.
Siddiq said: “Nazanin’s situation is desperate, and her physical and mental health are both under pressure.
“The campaign led by her husband Richard has forced the Government to act and the world to pay attention. We must not relent until this innocent mother is safely back at home in West Hampstead.”