British-Iranian faces further 16 years in Tehran jail
TEHRAN - A British-Iranian woman serving a five-year jail sentence in Tehran for alleged sedition is now facing extra charges carrying a possible 16-year prison term, her employers said.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF), the media organisation's philanthropic arm, was arrested at Tehran airport on April 3, 2016 after visiting family.
Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards accused her of having taken part in the "sedition movement" of protests that followed the disputed 2009 re-election of then hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Zaghari-Ratcliffe denies the charges.
She has now been subjected to "another mockery of justice", said TRF chief executive Monique Villa.
The new charges, levelled Sunday in a Tehran court, come a month before she was legally eligible for early release under Iranian law, the foundation said in a statement.
TRF said the charges are that she had joined organisations specifically working to overthrow the regime, referring to her media charity work in London, and that she once attended a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in Britain's capital.
The charges "carry an additional 16 years in jail", Villa said.
"These charges are linked to her work at BBC Media Action and at the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The accusation states that her charity work was a screen to overthrow the Iranian regime," she said.
"This is a complete invention as the Thomson Reuters Foundation doesn't work in Iran and has no programme or dealings with Iran.
"We continue to assert that she is 100 percent innocent and that these ludicrous charges must be dropped immediately, and Nazanin released and reunited with her daughter Gabriella and her husband Richard."
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have raised Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case with Iran.
Johnson said last month at the United Nations general assembly in New York that progress in relations between London and Tehran partially depended on resolving the case.
In the TRF statement, Zaghari-Ratcliffe said following Sunday's court appearance: "I have always been honest with them about what I have done and who I worked for. I was not trying to overthrow the regime. I love my country. It is ridiculous.
"My life is slipping away from my hands, and I can't do anything. I just want to come home."