Broadcast comes as part of documentary accusing UK of trying to infiltrate Iran through BBC Persian channel
2019-01-09 -The Guardian – Iranian state TV has for the first time broadcast images of the April 2016 arrest of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe at Tehran airport.
The pictures of her shocked face were shown during a lengthy TV documentary on what it claimed were the BBC’s efforts to undermine the Iranian state by training reporters opposed to the regime.
The broadcast comes as Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British dual national, is in dispute with prison authorities in Tehran over her access to doctors and medicine and says she will go on a three-day hunger strike. Some of her access to make phone calls to her husband, Richard, in London has also been restricted.
In the Commons this week, the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, warned that Tehran was “digging its own diplomatic grave” by refusing to release her. She pointed out that Iran needed Europe’s diplomatic support as it faced a growing challenge from the US, including economic actions, and even the threat of a direct military challenge.
The UK government has been a stalwart backer of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, along with France and Germany, despite the opposition of Donald Trump.
In the footage, part of a documentary accusing the UK of trying to infiltrate Iran through the BBC Persian television channel, Zaghari-Ratcliffe is told she is not permitted to leave Iran and must go to a prosecutor’s office.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was found guilty of espionage charges and sentenced to five years in jail. She has sporadic access to her daughter, Gabriella, who was with her on a visit to her family at the time of her arrest. She spent her 40th birthday, on Boxing Day, in prison.
Iran has already published 2010 BBC payslips for Zaghari-Ratcliffe and claims she trained journalists through a secure online platform. Her family and the BBC have said that she worked briefly for the BBC’s international development charity in an administrative position, and never had a role training journalists.
The BBC has also said that she never had a role at BBC Persian.
The documentary also shows footage of the former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, telling the foreign affairs select committee that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was training journalists, remarks he later clarified and withdrew.
It is significant that Iranian authorities still believe Johnson let slip the truth in his committee appearance, underlining the diplomatic damage he inflicted.
Both the Iranian foreign ministry and justice ministry issued tough statements at the weekend, urging the UK not to try to interfere in the internal affairs of the Iranian judiciary.