British-Iranian held by Tehran taken to mental ward: Family

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A British-Iranian mother jailed in Tehran since 2016 on sedition charges has been transferred to the mental ward of a hospital in Tehran, her family confirmed to Al Arabiya on Wednesday.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was transferred from Evin prison to Imam Khomeini hospital on Monday, where her husband confirmed she is being held by the Revolutionary Guard.

“The latest news is that Nazanin was transferred to the mental health ward. It’s the psychiatric ward of Imam Khomeini hospital in Tehran. She’s currently there, she’s under the guard of the Revolutionary Guards. Not normal prison guards, but the Revolutionary Guards and she’s been there since Monday,” Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin’s husband, told Al Arabiya.

Ratcliffe said that his wife’s father attempted to visit her to check on her condition but was not able to.
“He wasn’t able to be told anything apart from a confirmation that she was in the hospital. Today her mother went down to see if she could get access. She was also told nothing,” he added.

Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin’s husband, speaks to Al Arabiya on wife’s condition

A psychiatrist recently recommended that she be “instantly hospitalized due to her sharp deterioration since her previous meeting, and the risk of her taking matters into her own hands,” according to a statement from the Free Nazanin campaign..

“I was healthy and happy when I came to Iran to see my parents,” she was quoted as saying by her family.

“Three and a bit years later and I am admitted to a mental health clinic. Look at me now -- I ended up in an asylum. It should be an embarrassment.”

The 40-year-old recently ended a 15-day hunger strike held to mark her daughter Gabriella’s fifth birthday.

She was arrested in April 2016 as she was leaving Iran after taking then 22-month-old Gabriella to visit her family.

She was sentenced to five years for allegedly trying to topple the Iranian government.

A project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the media group’s philanthropic arm, she denies all charges.

‘Being used as a bargaining chip’

Iran confirmed on Tuesday that it had arrested a well-known French-Iranian academic without giving any details of her case.

The detention of Fariba Adelkhah, 60, risks increasing tension between Paris and Tehran at a critical moment in efforts to save a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Other Iranian dual nationals jailed in Iran include Iranian-American Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer, who are serving 10-year sentences for espionage in a case that has outraged Washington.

Chinese-American Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University researcher, is serving a 10-year sentence for espionage, and US national Michael White, 46, was this year also sentenced to 10 years.

Ratcliffe told Al Arabiya there were talks of a potential prisoner swap in regards to the Iranian tanker currently being held in Gibraltar by the British government.

“The foreign minister of Iran, Foreign Minister Zarif said that he’d not discussed with the British a swap between the UK and Iran over the oil tanker and Nazanin, which are strange comments but they were played out for a couple of days,” Ratcliffe said.

“We have had different messages before in relation to money that the UK owes and in occasional relation to prisoner swaps ... It’s clear that she’s held as a bargaining chip as the British government said, she’s held for diplomatic leverage,” he added.

(With AFP)

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