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Iran judge tells British woman to expect conviction on 'propaganda'

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, already in jail on espionage charge, is told to expect sentence for spreading propaganda, Free Nazanin campaign says
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been in an Iran jail since 2016 (Reuters)

A British-Iranian woman already imprisoned by Iran was told by a judge to expect to be convicted of new charges, her campaign said on Monday.

Already serving a five-year sentence on spying charges, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was brought before a court on Saturday accused of spreading propaganda against the Iranian state.

The 39-year-old faces a further five years in prison if convicted.

“She was not allowed a lawyer and was told by Judge Salavati that she can expect another conviction,” the Free Nazanin campaign said in a statement.

“Nazanin was allowed to contact the British ambassador for the first time and asked that he issues a formal diplomatic note protesting against the new charges.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested while leaving Iran in April 2016 and accused of spying and “membership of an illegal group”.

Amnesty International has warned that both her physical and mental health have deteriorated while in prison.

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They said her work for charities that train journalists has been used against her even though she has not trained journalists herself.

However the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, caused outrage when he said in the parliamentary foreign affairs committee on 1 November that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been teaching people journalism.

“If you look at what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing, she was simply teaching people journalism as I understand it, at the very limit," Johnson told the committee.

His comments led to Zaghari-Ratcliffe being brought into court on 4 November, and accused by a judge of spreading propaganda.

Johson later retracted the comments. A trip to Tehran in the weeks afterwards failed to secure Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release

Zaghari-Ratcliffe denies the charges and her family says she has become trapped in a "political standoff" between London and Tehran.

They say she was visiting Iran to introduce her young daughter Gabriella to her parents.

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