Millennium Post

Tehran digs own trench

A British-Iranian woman, who has been imprisoned in Tehran since 2016 on spying charges, returned to prison, just three days after she was temporarily released. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe went back to prison voluntarily so that her young daughter did not have to see her "dragged out of bed in the middle of the night", her husband Richard Ratcliffe said in a statement. Zaghari-Ratcliffe's temporary release had raised hopes that she would be released unconditionally. But, her return to prison represents a setback for her supporters and the "Free Nazanin" campaign, in a case that has sparked a diplomatic spat between Great Britain and Iran. This, indeed, is very unfortunate, coming, as it does, when Iran has been well and truly cornered. At a time when its authoritarian manifestations ought to simmer down, what is the point in resorting to such extreme ways to send negative signals? Indeed, ever since Trump tore the Iran deal, matters have been tense for Tehran. Britain had been a signatory, like so many like-minded countries, to the original deal drawn up by former US President Obama. It would, naturally, be in the best interests of Iran to garner as much support as it possibly can. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was, incidentally, first detained at Tehran's airport in April 2016, while on her way back to the UK from visiting her family with her daughter Gabriella, who was then 22 months old. The Iranian government accused her of working with organisations allegedly attempting to "overthrow the regime". She was sentenced to five years in jail and her child was placed in the care of her parents. Her employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, rejected the allegations. In May, Iranian media reported that she was due to face a new trial for "security-related" charges. Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband said in a statement that the proceedings had been a series of mixed messages with the Prosecutors' Office that ultimately leaves a young child without her mother. "This feels like a dark world. I used to pray, but these past two years I've lost much of my faith," Zaghari-Ratcliffe said, according to her husband. "Who would take a child from their mother? I was so happy yesterday walking in the street seeing normal life again, but I also envied the people in the street yesterday, walking holding their children's hands. I just want a normal life." Zaghari-Ratcliffe's imprisonment has, naturally, caused a rift between Britain and Iran. Last December, then-British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited Tehran to try to raise Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case with the Iranian government. But, sadly, in vain. Earlier, Johnson had made a faux pas in the House of Commons on the issue that was seen as a setback. But, now, matters have turned a full circle and sense should prevail in Tehran.

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