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Jailed British-Iranian charity worker moved to psychiatric ward

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to five years in jail in 2016 for plotting to overthrow Iran's clerical establishment
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter after a family visit (Reuters)

Jailed British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been transferred from prison to a hospital psychiatric ward, the campaign group seeking to free her said on Wednesday.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was moved from Tehran's Evin prison to the psychiatric ward of Imam Khomeini hospital in the capital, the Free Nazanin Campaign, which is led by Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard Ratcliffe, said in a statement.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK was extremely concerned about the welfare of Zaghari-Ratcliffe and wants to see her released.

She was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter after a family visit and was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran's clerical establishment.

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The Free Nazanin Campaign said before being transferred, Zaghari-Ratcliffe had told relatives: "I was healthy and happy when I came to Iran to see my parents.

"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.

"Prison is getting harder and harder for me. I hate being played in the middle of a political game. I just hate it."

Hunger strike

Last month Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, and her husband ended a two-week hunger strike designed to push for her release and raise the profile of her case.

Her family and the foundation, a charity organisation that operates independently of Thomson Reuters and Reuters News, deny the charge.

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The Free Nazanin Campaign said Zaghari-Ratcliffe's father visited the hospital on Tuesday, and confirmed that she is being held there under the control of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

It said he was denied access to see her despite waiting for several hours, the Reuters news agency reported.

"This is unusual. She has now been kept isolated from family or legal contact under IRGC control for over 36 hours," the campaign group said.

It said her father was unable to establish what treatment she is receiving or the IRGC's agenda, and added it was not known how long she will be held in the hospital.

Last month, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman said Zaghari-Ratcliffe will serve out her full sentence, dismissing a call for her release by a British minister visiting Tehran.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe's five-year-old daughter, Gabriella, has stayed in Iran with her grandparents since her mother's arrest.

Before being transferred, she was also being detained in Tehran's Evin Prison.