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Iran accuses British-Iranian woman of trying to ‘overthrow’ government

By Reuters - Jun 16,2016 - Last updated at Jun 16,2016

This handout picture provided by the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday shows him delivering a speech during a meeting with Iranian senior officials in Tehran (AFP photo)

TEHRAN — The Iranian Revolutionary Guard accused a British-Iranian aid worker who has been detained since early April of trying to "overthrow" the government in a statement published on Wednesday.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a 37-year-old programme coordinator with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a London-based charity.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard officials detained Zaghari-Ratcliffe on April 3 when she arrived at an airport to fly back to Britain, according to her husband Richard Ratcliffe.

"This person had membership in foreign companies and organisations and planned and carried out media and cyber projects with the intent of a soft overthrow of the holy Islamic Republic government," the statement said. It was published by a guard office in Kerman province, where Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe "carried out criminal activities with the guidance and protection of media and spy services of foreign governments", according to the statement. She was arrested after "massive intelligence operations" by the guard.

Monique Villa, the chief executive of the Foundation, said in a statement in early May that the Thomson Reuters Foundation has no operations in Iran. A spokesman for the Foundation said in an e-mail message that it is "assessing the situation". The Foundation operates independently from Reuters News.

Britain's foreign office said it is following up the allegations made in the statement.

"We are urgently seeking information from the Iranian authorities on the reported accusations being made against Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe," a spokesperson for the foreign office told Reuters. "We have raised this case repeatedly and at the highest levels and will continue to do so at every available opportunity." 

No charges have been filed in the case, but Zaghari-Ratcliffe has told family members in Iran that she was forced to sign a confession under duress, her husband said last month.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe's file has been sent to Tehran to begin judicial proceedings but officials from the intelligence wing of the Revolutionary Guard are still interrogating her, according to the statement.

Iran does not recognise dual-citizenship and if Zaghari-Ratcliffe is charged she will be tried as an Iranian citizen.

The guard statement said that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested by the intelligence wing of the Revolutionary Guard at the Imam Khomeini international airport in Tehran and subsequently transferred to Kerman in southeast Iran.

 

The statement said that Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held in a "suite" in Kerman prison. She had been held in a solitary confinement, according to her husband.

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