Britons jailed in Iran fearful over rising tensions in Middle East

PUBLISHED: 09:02 05 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:02 05 January 2020

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of detained Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, outside the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA.

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of detained Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, outside the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Two British-Iranian dual citizens in jail in Iran are concerned about their fate after US killed the contry’s General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike at Baghdad’s airport on Thursday.

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori are serving five and 10 year sentences respectively in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison on charges of spying.

Richard Ratcliffe spoke to his 40-year-old wife by phone after the incident, and said she was fearful for her future after he told her about the attack.

He told the Mail on Sunday that she had told him: "When I get to the end of the full sentence, they'll just add another sentence on. Why did all this have to happen? My God, what will happen to me now?"

"I am so traumatised," she added. "Everyone worries. It is a really big deal. I can't stand this place any more. I am scared that things get delayed again. I think they'll keep me here for five years, or more."

Mr Ratcliffe, who lives in the UK with the couple's young daughter, told the paper: "She was in despair, definitely distraught. She thinks she'll have to serve her full sentence and then they'll just add another sentence on. She also said everyone in the prison is scared and fears there will be war."

Mr Ashoori's wife Sherry Izadi had spoken to her 65-year-old husband on Saturday morning, and said she feared he no longer had a "hope in hell" of being released.

"He told me everyone there is very jittery. They are so scared of the fallout. He had hoped that Iran would negotiate or relent on his release, but we feel that hope is now gone," Mrs Izadi told the Sunday Telegraph.

She added: "I have been filled with fear since we heard the news of Qassem Soleimani's death, that there will be some act of revenge, and the prisoners will get caught in the middle. I don't think Anoosheh and the Western prisoners have a hope in hell now."

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Mr Ashoori are among as many as five people with dual British-Iranian nationality, or with UK connections, believed to be in prisons in Iran at present.

These also include Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a Cambridge-educated British-Australian academic, who has been in Tehran's Evin prison for more than a year, having reportedly been given a 10-year sentence.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ms Moore-Gilbert have gone on hunger strikes in Evin to protest against their imprisonment.

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