Iran ambassador summoned to Foreign Office after Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe warned of prison return

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been told to prepare to return to prison in Iran. Credit: PA

The Iranian ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office and told of the UK's "grave concern" following news that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is to be returned to prison.

The family of the 42-year-old British-Iranian woman say she has been told to attend court in Iran, where she is currently under house arrest, on Monday.

Thomas Drew, Foreign Office director general for the Middle East, on Thursday conveyed in a meeting with ambassador Hamid Baeidinejad the UK’s “grave concern” at the development and called for Iran to end her arbitrary detention, a department spokesperson said.

“We have made it clear to the Iranian ambassador that his country’s treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is unjustified and unacceptable, and is causing an enormous amount of distress,” they said.

“Iran is further tarnishing its reputation through its actions towards Nazanin.

“It is time to end her arbitrary detention and that of the other dual British nationals it is holding.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe denies all the charges against her. Credit: PA

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran since 2016 when she was sentenced to five years in prison over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.

This week Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned her treatment as “unacceptable and unjustified”.

His comments came after Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard Ratcliffe said the mother of one – who has been out of prison on furlough but under house arrest in Tehran since March due to the coronavirus crisis – was presented with a court summons on Tuesday.

She was told to pack a bag to bring to Monday’s hearing, as she would be returning to prison after the court appearance, Mr Ratcliffe added.

Only months from her expected release date, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was returned to court in September and told she would face a second trial, but this was postponed at short notice with no future date set.

Her husband said it would hear charges of spreading anti-government propaganda, in a case officials dropped in December 2017, after a visit from the then foreign secretary Boris Johnson, but reopened in May 2018.