Detained British-Iranian woman 'needs urgent treatment'

By: AFP      Published: 07:09 PM, 12 Mar, 2021
Detained British-Iranian woman 'needs urgent treatment'

A British-Iranian woman needs urgent treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, a rights group said Friday, as she faces a fresh Tehran court appearance.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 42, a project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested while visiting family in 2016 and jailed for five years on a sedition charge that she strenuously denies. 

She had been under house arrest since the pandemic and her electronic ankle tag was removed last weekend but the summons means she cannot return home and has raised fears she could face a new sentence. 

A remote medical evaluation by International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims found Zaghari-Ratcliffe suffers from "serious and chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder", according to rights group Redress.  

It says the former detainee's mental health problems are "due to her treatment in prison and under house arrest", as well as the ongoing legal uncertainty and separation from her family.

She spent long periods in solitary confinement, has physical problems including pain in her neck, shoulder and arm, tooth pain and lumps in her breast that have not been properly checked, Redress said.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the media organisation.

Her husband and supporters have said she and other dual nationals were being held as political hostages because of a long-standing dispute between London and Tehran over a failed arms deal.

Redress sent Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab the report, concluding Zaghari-Ratcliffe "is in urgent need" of psychiatric treatment and psychotherapy in the UK.

It urged the government to recognise her "as a victim of torture in Iran".

Britain has repeatedly urged Iran to allow her to return home, where her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, and their six-year-old daughter live.

On Friday, the foreign ministry said Iran "continues to put Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe through a cruel and intolerable ordeal".

"Nazanin must be allowed to return permanently to her family in the UK and we will continue to do all we can to achieve this," it added.