The husband of a British charity worker jailed in Iran on a charge of spying has described the announcement of a second trial as “ominous”.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is already serving a five-year prison sentence, will face a further hearing accused of an unspecified security charge, it was announced on Saturday.
Her husband Richard Ratcliffe believed his wife, from Hampstead, north London, would be facing an allegation of spreading propaganda against Tehran’s Islamist regime, but fears the new wording from the head of the court could indicate a heavier charge.
“He’s definitely used a more dramatic description,” Mr Ratcliffe said.
“It could be just what we thought would happen and it could be an omen of more.”
A count of spreading propaganda would be at the “milder end” of security charges, he said, but the terminology used also leaves room for a more serious allegation to be brought against the mother-of-one, 39.
“If nothing else, it’s a more ominous way of presenting the facts, but it could also be an allusion to more ominous facts,” he added.
The British-Iranian woman, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, has always denied all allegations.
According to reports, Iran’s semi-official news agency Tasnim said Tehran Revolutionary Court’s head, Musa Ghazanfarabadi, announced the fresh trial would be over a security charge, but did not specify whether it was on espionage or another matter, or when a trial would start.
The Foreign Office said it would not provide “a running commentary on every twist and turn”.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested and jailed in 2016. She has consistently denied all allegations, insisting she was on holiday to introduce her daughter to her family.
The new charge came despite Prime Minister Theresa May calling on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to release British prisoners on humanitarian grounds.