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

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe jailed in Tehran since 2016 on sedition charges has been transferred to hospital, family says.

    Zaghari-Ratcliffe recently ended a 15-day hunger strike held to mark her daughter Gabriella's fifth birthday [File: Simon Dawson/Reuters]
    Zaghari-Ratcliffe recently ended a 15-day hunger strike held to mark her daughter Gabriella's fifth birthday [File: Simon Dawson/Reuters]

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

    Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was transferred from Evin prison to Imam Khomeini hospital on Monday, where her father confirmed she is being held by the Revolutionary Guard, according to a statement from the Free Nazanin campaign, which is led by her husband, Richard Ratcliffe.

    "It is unknown how long Nazanin is expected to be in the psychiatric ward. It is not clear what kind of medical treatment will be provided," it said.

    A psychiatrist recently recommended that she be "instantly hospitalised due to her sharp deterioration since her previous meeting, and the risk of her taking matters into her own hands", added the statement.

    "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.

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    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.

    A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May demanded her immediate release and urged Tehran to allow family members to visit Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

    "We are extremely concerned about Nazanin's welfare and call for her immediate release," the spokesperson said. "And we urge Iran to allow family members to visit her and check on her care."

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

    The case has added to long-standing tensions between Tehran and London, which is a major arms supplier to Iran's arch-enemy Saudi Arabia.

    Fariba Adelkhah

    Separately, 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.

    SOURCE: News agencies