Commenting on the sentencing of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to a further year in prison, Dr Anicée Van Engeland, Associate Professor of International Security & Law at Cranfield University, said: “Ultimately, cases like Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s and that of other dual-nationals imprisoned in Iran will continue until the geopolitical issues of debt, the nuclear programme, and Iranian nationals held in the West are in part resolved. There are several games of chess being played and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is caught up in all of them.

“While both nations have denied publicly that her case is linked to the debt, the UK’s decision to acknowledge it points to this being the reality of the situation. Until the issue of Western debt to Iran is resolved, cases like Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s and other dual-national citizens will continue to be caught up in this geopolitical issue. 

“Alongside the debt issue, Iran is also conscious of a number of what it considers ‘political prisoners’ held in the West and will want movement on these cases in exchange for Nazanin’s release.

“This case is, yet again, another example of how the Iranian authorities use domestic law to maintain their political legitimacy. Iranian national security laws were changed in 2012, and again in 2018, so that the authorities could specifically crackdown on the crimes that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been tried in court on. Most dual-nationality citizens, particularly journalists and academics, have been arrested, prosecuted and convicted under these measures."