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British-Iranian woman targeted by Iran's government could be headed back to prison

By Jake Thomas
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British-Iranian woman targeted by Iran's government could be headed back to prison
Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of imprisoned Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, outside the Iranian Embassy in London, Britain, 21 June 2019 (reissued 26 April 2021). Zaghari-Ratcliffe could face more prison time after her lawyer said she lost an appeal on Saturday. File photo by ANDY RAI/EPA

Oct. 16 (UPI) -- An Iranian appeals court has upheld the sentence for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian aid worker accused of plotting against the country's Islamist government.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in 2016 along with other dual citizens. A project manager with Thomson Reuters Foundation charity, she was taken into custody by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

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The guard accused her of being a "main ringleader of hostile institutions who had been involved in criminal activities over the past years under the auspices of the foreign governments' media and espionage services."

At the time of her arrest, she was attempting to board a flight from Tehran to Britain with her then 22-month-old daughter, Gabriella. She was initially sentenced to five years in prison for planning a "soft overthrow" of the Iranian government. In 2017, she faced additional charges.

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A Twitter account from the campaign seeking Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release said on Saturday that her appeal on a more recent set of charges had failed.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was imprisoned for five years in 2016, spending her final year on parole at her parents' home in Tehran, reports the BBC. She completed her term in March only to face new charges carrying a one-year prison term for "propaganda against the system."

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Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, told the news outlet that she's now waiting for the call summoning her back to prison and was "traumatized at the thought of having to go back to jail."

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Ratcliffe has not seen his wife in person since she was imprisoned in 2016 and their daughter has been living with him in the U.K. since 2019, according to the BBC. He has said his wife is being used as a bargaining chip over a $550 million debt Iran claims Britain owes it for an incomplete tank deal.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss took to Twitter to denounce what she called the "baseless charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe."

"There are no credible grounds to continue to hold her and she must be released permanently," she said. "I will do all I can to help Nazanin and her family."

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