Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in court in Tehran on second set of charges

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian dual national detained since 2016, faced a second set of charges on Sunday in Iran’s revolutionary court in Tehran.

She was freed from house arrest last Sunday at the end of a five-year prison sentence, but because she had been summoned to court again on the other charge, she has not been allowed to leave the country to return to her family.

Her lawyer Hojjat Kermani told the Iranian Emtedad website he was very hopeful she would be acquitted, but there was no immediate word from the Iranian judiciary as to the next steps.

“Her trial was held at branch 15 of the revolutionary court. Her charge is propaganda against the system,” Kermani was quoted as saying by the website.

“The trial was held in a calm atmosphere with the presence of my client … The legal defence was made and the final defence was taken … I am very hopeful that she will be acquitted.”

He told Reuters: “Legally, the court should announce the verdict in a week but it is up to the judge.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe has spent nearly nine months of her four years in jail in solitary confinement and spent that last year fitted with an ankle tag at her parent’s home in Tehran. Her psychological condition is said to be very fragile. The British embassy was not represented in court since Iran does not recognise dual citizenship status.

Some of the new charges include attending a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in London and being interviewed by the BBC Persian network. These events pre-date her visit to see her mother with her daughter Gabriella in Tehran, and it is unclear why they could not have been raised as evidence in the first trial in 2016.

The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, spoke with the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, last Wednesday to underline how seriously the British took the threat of Iran imposing a second set of charges against Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Iranian media reported that during the call Rouhani raised the issue of a £400m debt Britain acknowledges it owes the Islamic republic in capital and interest for a 1970s arms deal with the then-Shah of Iran. The UK has said it cannot pay the debt due to sanctions on Iran.

Rouhani said it was very odd the debt had not been paid. The US had paid a parallel $1.7bn debt over a cancelled arms deal in 2016. The US payment in cash and instalments was made at the same as a prisoner swap that the US insisted was unrelated.

The UK foreign secretary, Domenico Raab, welcomed the removal of her ankle tag but said Iran continued to put Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family through a “cruel and an intolerable ordeal”.

The trial comes against a fraught diplomatic backdrop, with talks about a US return to the nuclear deal stalled over how both Iran and the US could take simultaneous and consecutive steps to come back into compliance with the deal. The US says indirect diplomacy is under way between itself and Iran through the European Union and other intermediaries, but the slow progress has surprised and angered Tehran.

The UN nuclear inspectorate, the International Atomic Energy Authority, is in talks with Iran over the level of inspections it will still be allowed to undertake at Iran’s nuclear sites.

Hardliners battling for prominence ahead of the June elections for the presidency are taking increasingly uncompromising positions on issues such as the level of permissible uranium enrichment.

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