Gibson Dunn Pro Bono Newsletter Los Angeles Office

Gibson Dunn Supports the Release of Thomson Reuters Foundation Employee Imprisoned in Iran

The London office of the firm acts for The Thomson Reuters Foundation in support of its employee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an innocent British national who has been imprisoned in Iran for the past two and a half years.

In April 2016, Nazanin was arrested by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard at Tehran Airport as she and her then-two-year-old daughter, Gabriella, prepared to board a flight back home to the UK.  They had been visiting to celebrate the Iranian New Year and to introduce baby Gabriella to Nazanin’s family.  After months of arbitrary detention and long periods of solitary confinement, in September 2016, Nazanin was sentenced to five years’ detention on the back of vague, baseless charges of espionage and training journalists to spread propaganda against the Iranian regime.  As of October 2018, despite being eligible for unconditional early release, she has been granted only three days of furlough (temporary leave).  Since the arrest, Gabriella has lived with her grandparents in Iran, separated from both her mother and her father, Richard, who lives in London.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Richard and the “Free Nazanin” campaign, her case has received extremely high-profile coverage: Nazanin’s plight is raised at the highest levels in British-Iranian talks (including by the Prime Minister, Government ministers, the Ambassador to Iran, and consular staff), and has received close attention and concern from the current Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.  Nazanin is regularly front-page news in the UK, in particular since a harmful misstatement before Parliament by then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in November 2017 that Nazanin had been “teaching journalism” on her visit to Iran.  This led to further charges – based on the same dubious evidence as the initial charges – levelled against her by the judicial authorities, including that Nazanin was “plotting the soft overthrow of the Islamic Republic.”  To date, she has not been tried for these charges.

Nazanin’s family and the campaign continue to work to secure her release, to show that her detention is politically-motivated and a gross violation of her fundamental rights, and to bring both Nazanin and Gabriella home as soon as possible.  Gibson Dunn lawyers have been working closely with (amongst others)the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Ratcliffe family, torture charity REDRESS, and anti-corruption NGO Corruption Watch.  We have been: engaging regularly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office [the UK’s equivalent to the US Department of State] to discuss developments both in Iran and the UK; meeting with Government ministers and their legal advisors to discuss inter alia sanctions rules, diplomatic protection, and Nazanin’s human rights; researching matters including in relation to the Iranian Revolutionary Court system, private hearings, international arms sales frameworks, and detained dual nationals; undertaking in-depth analysis of company accounts, historic Parliamentary documents, and archival records to determine whether an historic unpaid debt owed by a British Government-owned arms company to Iran is linked to Nazanin’s continued detention; and coordinating with journalists to publicise these issues and promote the campaign for Nazanin’s release.

The team includes lawyers Penny Madden QC, Sarika Rabheru, Yannick Hefti-Rossier, and Clementine Hollyer.