Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has accused the UK Foreign Office of being complicit in forcing her to sign a false confession letter to the Iranian government as part of the last-minute terms of her release in March.
She signed the letter at Tehran airport while waiting to hear whether she would be allowed to leave Iran after six years in detention.
The allegations, in a bombshell 20-page letter to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss obtained exclusively by the Guardian, suggest she was shocked when she found the Foreign Office had agreed to the condition in the of his release, adding that his actions had “caused him a heavy personal toll and caused him great trauma”.
She says in the letter written by her Redress lawyers that “British officials were complicit in an illegal act by the Iranian authorities, telling her that she had to sign a false confession in circumstances where she effectively had no other choice”.
The lawyers claim that “the actions of UK officials appear contrary to UK policy not to ‘participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or ill-treatment for any purpose’.” He adds that the actions of the Foreign Office have made the status of other British detainees in Iran more precarious.
The revelations suggest the Foreign Office and Downing Street were at best not straightforward in revealing the terms of his release.
In the letter, lawyers for Redress say Zaghari-Ratcliffe claims the requirement to sign the confession caused him lasting damage and made him fear reprisals in London.
They say: “Zaghari-Ratcliffe had resisted intense pressure to make a false confession on numerous occasions during interrogations and during his eight and a half months in solitary confinement. Being told to sign a false confession by her own government after all she had survived was deeply upsetting to her.
In the last three days before her release, Redress said Iranian officials accused Zaghari-Ratcliffe of being a spy, taunted her by offering her release, then threatening to revoke her, and tried, then forced her to sign a document confessing to unspecified offences.
The letter reveals that the British ambassador called her on March 14 and told her that she had to attend a meeting with Iranian officials to collect a new Iranian passport, even though her Iranian lawyer had advised her not to go. assist.
The letter reads: “The ambassador picked her up in an embassy car, drove her to the government office and waited outside. Again, Zaghari-Ratcliffe had to report to the office alone. She was accused by Iranian officials of being a spy, told that if she had loved Iran she wouldn’t have done what she did, and asked if she regretted it. She was informed that they were exchanging it for half a billion dollars. They then pressured her to sign a document purporting to confess to unspecified charges and promising not to sue the Iranian government. The document appeared to be a standardized form with blank spaces to fill in details of alleged crimes and confessions. Zaghari-Ratcliffe firmly refused to sign this document”.
At this point, she recounts in the letter that a “particularly sinister official was brought into the room to frighten her. He accused her of being a spy and of ruining Iran and told her: “if you don’t sign this, you won’t go home”. Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe eventually gave in to writing a separate document in her own handwriting which deleted the words ‘I confess’.
The ambassador then assured her that the document had no legal value.
More details soon…