UN condemns Iran detention of British-Iranian
TEHRAN - The husband of a British-Iranian woman accused of sedition in Iran demanded the British government on Thursday push for her release as a UN working group ruled her detention contravened international law.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was last month sentenced to five years in prison for taking part in anti-regime protests in 2009, although the exact charges remain unpublished.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Thursday ruled that her arrest and imprisonment had breached several articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
"Taking into account all the circumstances of the case, especially the risk of harm to Ms Ratcliffe's health and physical integrity and the well-being of her child, the Working Group considers that the adequate remedy would be to release Ms Ratcliffe immediately," said the ruling.
It also found that she had been discriminated against, and detained because she was a dual national.
Iran does not recognise dual nationality.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested on April 3, at the end of a visit with her two-year-old daughter Gabriella to see family members.
Her daughter remains in Iran, and is being cared for by her grandparents.
- 'Conspicuous silence' -
Husband Richard Ratcliffe on Thursday welcomed the ruling as "really important" and urged the government to intensify attempts to secure her release.
However, Ratcliffe told a London news conference that he feared his wife had become a political pawn and criticised Britain's efforts so far.
He said the manner of her arrest was "done to pick a fight".
"I think the UK is trying not to respond to that and it's caught up between the part of Iran that wants to make friends and the part that wants to stop that.
"It's a conspicuous silence."
Ratcliffe said he had spoken to his wife on Tuesday, when she expressed anger at the British government, wondering why Canada had been able to secure the release of Iranian-Canadian anthropologist -- and her former cellmate -- Homa Hoodfar while she remained detained.
Britain's Foreign Office and Prime Minister Theresa May have both raised concerns about the case, but have not directly criticised Tehran.
Carla Ferstman, director of human rights group Redress, said the government should publicly call for her release and consider imposing sanctions.
Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards has accused Zaghari-Ratcliffe of having taken part in the "sedition movement" of widespread protests that followed the 2009 re-election of former hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Her daughter Gabriella was born in Britain and has a British passport, which was confiscated by the Iranian authorities, leaving her stranded with her grandparents in Iran.
Iran and Britain appointed new ambassadors last month for the first time since a mob ransacked the British embassy in Tehran in 2011, as part of a series of measures to boost relations after last year's nuclear deal.