Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Unconfirmed Reports of Progress in Nazanin’s Case

REDRESS is aware of unconfirmed media reports of progress in Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case, including that the UK has paid a £400m debt that it owes Iran, which has been consistently given by Iranian authorities as the reason for her detention.  

REDRESS notes that there is currently no official confirmation from the Iranian government or the UK government that the UK has paid this debt or that an agreement has been reached to release Nazanin, who has been arbitrarily detained in Iran since 2016. 

REDRESS remains hopeful but cautious as similar messages have come out of Iran before, without substance. For example, last year Iranian state TV reported that debt had been paid and a deal had been reached to release Western prisoners, which did not transpire. 

Prospects of Nazanin’s release have also been dashed before. In March 2021, Nazanin completed her five-year sentence and her ankle tag was removed. However, a week later she was prosecuted for a further set of unfounded charges of “spreading propaganda” against the Iranian regime, and was eventually convicted for a further one-year prison sentence and a one-year travel ban.  

While Nazanin was never called back to prison for her second sentence, and she is currently staying with her parents in Iran, she remains at risk of being returned to Evin prison at any time, and suffering further harm. 

Discussions about potential solutions are a positive sign, but there have been many false dawns in Nazanin’s case before. REDRESS therefore remain cautious, and continues to urge the Iranian government to do the right thing and release Nazanin. We equally urge the UK government to pay the debt it owes Iran, and to do everything in its power to secure her release and protect her from further harm.

For more information, please contact: Eva Sanchis, Head of Communications of REDRESS, on [email protected] or +44 (0)7857110076. 

Notes to editors: 

  • Nazanin is a British-Iranian charity worker who has been arbitrarily detained in Iran and separated from her husband and daughter since she was arrested at a Tehran airport on 3 April 2016. During this time, she spent more than eight months in solitary confinement and was denied urgent medical treatment. She was released from house arrest on 7 March 2021 but was immediately re-tried for a second set of charges on 14 March 2021. She was sentenced to a further one-year jail sentence and one-year travel ban on 26 April 2021. This sentence has not yet been implemented. Iran has never followed the rule of law in Nazanin’s case and she has never received a fair trial. The precise nature of the charges and evidence in this second case remain unclear and indistinct from first case.  
  • Nazanin and her family have been told by Iranian authorities that she is being detained because of the UK’s failure to pay an outstanding £400 million debt to Iran. The debt is the subject of ongoing legal proceedings before the UK courts.  
  • Six United Nations Special Rapporteurs have previously stated that Nazanin’s treatment may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or torture, as prohibited under Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  
  • Following an independent physical and psychological evaluation by doctors, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims determined that its findings were “highly consistent” with allegations of torture and ill-treatment during Nazanin’s time in detention. REDRESS considers that Iran’s treatment of Nazanin constitutes torture under the UN Convention against Torture. 
  • REDRESS has campaigned for Nazanin’s release since 2016. Following a submission by REDRESS, the UN WGAD found in 2016 that her detention was arbitrary and requested Iran to release her. REDRESS and Doughty Street Chambers, as Nazanin’s legal representatives, submitted a second complaint to the UN WGAD asking it to recognise and address Iran’s practice of state hostage-taking.  
  • In March 2019, following advocacy by REDRESS, the UK Government took the exceptional step of escalating the matter to an inter-state dispute with Iran, through granting Nazanin diplomatic protection. 
  • REDRESS’s work on Nazanin’s case is carried out in collaboration with Prof John Dugard SC, Alison Macdonald QC and Dr Tatyana Eatwell.