A British mother jailed in Iran on spying claims faces being sent back to court on a fresh charge, her husband has said.
Richard Ratcliffe fears Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe could be taken back to court “within a week or so” on a resurrected charge of spreading propaganda against the regime.
The 40-year-old charity worker from Hampstead, north London, was arrested in 2016 while on holiday with her daughter Gabriella.
She is serving a five-year jail term in Iran after she was convicted of spying, which she has always denied.
Mr Ratcliffe has urged Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to raise his wife’s case when he meets his Iranian counterpart later in Brussels for Iran nuclear-deal talks.
He told Sky News the possibility she could face a new charge had come as “a real shock”.
“We thought we were over all of these sort of new court cases and so on, and when the foreign secretary went to Iran back in December it felt like that was all closed down,” he said.
“So for it all to be resurrected now is very daunting. What it means, we won’t know until the court case happens and quite how it plays out. It feels like yet again she is being used as a political play in this wider conversation.
“In the past month there have been three more British-Iranians that have been taken, so it feels like there is a very clear issue that the Iranians want resolved and it’s on the foreign secretary’s shoulders to try and do so.”
Mr Racliffe said his wife “was very upset” after learning she could face a fresh court battle.
“In fact, I had a phone call this morning just before I came on air and she was a little bit calmer,” he continued.
“She had written to the head of the judiciary who had made the comments to say she was going to go back to court, just to say, ‘listen, hang on, you told the UN only last month that this court case was closed and you know I’m eligible for release, why is this happening? I’ve suffered enough and my poor baby daughter has suffered enough’.
“So I’m glad there is some fight in her, because she was certainly very down on Monday.”
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe said in a statement released through the campaign to free her: “Sometimes when I come back from the visit with Gabriella, after saying goodbye to her, I feel like I cannot live without her, I want to go back and hold her.
“She kisses me so hard. It is hard to say goodbye to her. She blows kisses all the way as she goes up the stairs, and everyone stands there watching.
“After the news of a new court case again, yesterday was one of those days. I kept thinking, how did I survive without her for 26 months?”
Mr Ratcliffe said he looked on with “horror, concern and trepidation” as Donald Trump announced last week that the US was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.
Mr Ratcliffe said: “It is clear that our case has been political all along. Nazanin’s family were very happy when the nuclear deal was signed, and were distraught last week when the announcement was that it was going to be dumped.”
He said Mr Johnson “needs to be clear that this nuclear deal needs to make it safe for people, that there cannot be a policy of taking people and holding them for arbitrary reasons to put political pressure on people”.
“All governments have a duty to protect their citizens,” he added.