Friday, 9 December 2016

Iranian Kidnappers

Image result for hassan rouhaniH
Hassan Rouhani - Twitter

The Politics Home web site reports on the arrest and detention of a British-Iranian woman (Nazanin Zachary-Ratcliffe) who has, somewhat implausibly, been accused of spying and trying to overthrow the Iranian regime while in Iran on a family visit with her two-year-old child.

Sounds like something you would expect from the Peoples' Republic of North Korea and its barmy leader Kim Jong-un, yet the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani studied at Glasgow Caledonian University, my former alma mater as well. 


Husband of jailed British-Iranian woman in Tehran hits out at Foreign Office

By Sebastian Whale - Politics Home

The husband of a woman jailed in Iran on charges of spying against the state has said Britain is not doing enough to secure her release.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall - Credit: PA Images

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker for the Thomson Reuters Foundation who has dual British and Iranian citizenship, was sentenced to five-years in prison in September on charges of using a “spy network” to overthrow the Iranian regime.

Theresa May raised her situation in her first face-to-face meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the UN General Assembly that same month, while Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said her case was an “utmost priority”, but failed to call for her release.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent six weeks in solitary confinement after being arrested at Tehran airport on 3 April while she was returning from a holiday with her two-year-old daughter, Gabriella.

Gabriella has since been unable to return home to the UK and to her father Richard Ratcliffe. She is currently staying with her grandparents in Iran after having her passport taken.

Mr Ratcliffe told the Times: “Actions speak louder than words. The authorities have not bothered to visit Nazanin in prison or Gabriella despite the fact other countries have managed it.

“I haven’t heard any public criticism of the Iranians for what they have put my wife through or any outright calls for her release.”

The Times reports that Mr Johnson did not confirm or deny that a long running argument over an arms deal was behind Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s detention.

Iran claims that Britain owes it around £400m for not completing an arms deal signed with Shah Pahlavi before the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Britain reportedly delivered 185 of the 1,500 Chieftain tanks that Iran purchased, but paused deliveries after the Shah was overthrown.

A European court ruling in 2010 ordered the UK to repay the debt.

“I don’t think the Foreign Office has my wife’s or daughter’s best interest at heart, it is clear there is something else going on and that has been a shock,” Mr Ratcliffe said.

“The Foreign Office is in regular contact with the Iranian government at all levels,” Mr Johnson said.

“It remains a matter that is of the utmost priority for this government.”

Iran has also recently indicted other dual nationals Homa Hoodfar, a Canadian-Iranian professor, and Siamak Namazi, an American-Iranian businessman.

More than 800,000 people have signed a petition – created by Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard – calling for her release.

New President (18/06/13)

So the Iranian people have spoken and - despite all of the gerrymandering involved - the voters elected a 'moderate' candidate in Hassan Rouhani - decisively rejected the man favoured by the religious establishment, Saeed Jalili.

Just imagine what might happen in Iran if the people had a truly free vote - and the ability to vote for any candidate of their choosing instead of a carefully selected all male slate - vetted by a Guardian Council which is appointed by the Supreme Ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khameni. 

The turnout was impressive at 72% and  Hassan Rouhani won an overall majority on the first ballot with 18,613,329 votes - or 51% of the total votes cast - easily beating all of his rivals.  

Mr Rouhani claims to have a link with Scotland, or Glasgow to be precise, and says he attended Glasgow College of Technology many years ago - before it became Glasgow Caledonian University.

By a strange coincidence, I went there too - so maybe I've actually met him, maybe I should drop him a note and see if I can get an interview with the new Iranian President - on the basis of our shared past.

Now that would be cool.  

The election results

Hassan Rouhani: 18,613,329

Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf: 6,077,292 

Saeed Jalili: 4,168,946

Mohsen Rezai: 3,884,412

Ali Akbar Velayati: 2,268,753

Mohammad Gharazi: 446,015

Votes cast: 36,704,156

Many people wore Mr Rouhani's election colour of purple as they took to the streets.

Tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets after the results were announced on Saturday, many wearing Mr Rouhani's election colour of purple, but others dressed in the green of the reformist movement.

Hassan Rouhani is regarded as a religious moderate and is fluent in English, German, French, Russian and Arabic.