May 9, 2016 / 7:37 PM / a year ago

Husband calls on Iran to release detained British-Iranian aid worker

(Reuters) - The husband of a British-Iranian aid worker who has been jailed in Iran for the past five weeks called on Iranian officials to free his wife on Monday. Richard Ratcliffe also said that Iranian officials have confiscated the passport of the couple’s 22-month-old daughter, barring the infant from leaving Iran as well.

“The cruelty of the situation seems both outrageous and arbitrary,” Ratcliffe said in a statement on Monday. “That a young mum and baby can be treated as some national security threat is absurd.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a 37-year-old program coordinator with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a charity organization that operates separately from Reuters News. Monique Villa, the chief executive of the foundation, called for the situation to be resolved as soon as possible.

“At the Thomson Reuters Foundation she has no professional dealings with Iran whatsoever,” Villa said in a statement. “In fact, the Thomson Reuters Foundation has no dealings with Iran and does not operate in the country.”

Iranian Revolutionary Guard officials detained Zaghari-Ratcliffe on April 3 when she arrived at an airport to fly back to Britain, her husband said. She is now being held in solitary confinement in an unknown location in Kerman Province, 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) south of Tehran.

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. He added that Iranian officials have told her relatives in Iran that the investigation relates to an issue of “national security.”

A spokesman for the Iranian Mission to the United Nations referred questions to Iranian diplomats in Britain. A spokesman for the Iranian embassy in London declined to comment.

The aid worker has also been barred from speaking with her husband and daughter or making calls outside of Iran, her husband said. Officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross have not had contact with her either, he added.

“The Iranian authorities do not grant the International Committee of the Red Cross access to any category of detainees in Iran,” said ICRC spokesperson Anna Nelson.

Edited by Michael Williams

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