Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has revealed details of her five years of torture in the Iranian prison system to independent investigators for the first time.
She said she had been subjected to abuse including sensory and sleep deprivation, stress positions, and prolonged isolation, handcuffing, chaining and blindfolding.
Doctors diagnosed “serious and chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression and obsessive compulsive disorder” after an evaluation conducted by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims.
In the full report revealed to The Times, investigators concluded that the mother-of-one has no chance for recovery unless she returns home for treatment.
The report — which uses UN standards for the assessment of torture — also revealed that she had been subjected to almost nine months of solitary confinement, and bombardment with bright lights and blaring TV to deprive her of sleep.
“They kept the lights on the whole time so you could not tell the difference between day and night. It was just the call to prayers that gave you a sense but otherwise you did not know,” Zaghari-Ratcliffe said.
“In the bathroom there was a dripping sound. There was drip, drip, drip the whole time. They would put the TV on the whole time, very loud. They would not let me turn it off, turn it down.”
She was subjected to regular interrogations that could last as long as eight hours throughout that time, during which Iranian security forces threatened her with executions, and said they would torture her family or permanently take her daughter from her.
Most cruel and effective, said doctors, were the threats that she would never see her daughter again.
One of the female guards had a baby daughter a year younger than Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s child, and would call to speak to her in baby voices right outside her cell. “I dreaded her shifts as I knew she would do that to torture me,” Zaghari-Ratcliffe said.
Dr. Michele Heisler, a world-renowned expert on the assessment and treatment of torture, said: “This tactic of using your children is one we see used on women. It is a type of torture that is unfortunately found to be effective.”
Heisler, one of the two forensic experts who examined her, added: “Her treatment, as a whole, amounts to torture, under international standards. It has been going on for five years and is continuing. She hasn’t been able to heal without reunification with her family. If she has a chance of recovery she needs to be in a safe environment.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is under house arrest in Tehran, was sentenced to five years in jail in April 2016 for plotting to overthrow the regime — charges she vehemently denies.
Her sentence ended in early March, but she remains under house arrest and her fate remains unclear after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leveled new charges against her. She faces another court hearing on Sunday for allegedly spreading propaganda.
Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said: “Although she’s now technically free she wouldn’t go anywhere. She’s certainly being followed and the anxiety will take a long time to go away.” He added: “She remains in harm’s way until she’s on a plane.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Iran continues to put Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe through a cruel and intolerable ordeal. Nazanin must be allowed to return permanently to her family in the UK and we will continue to do all we can to achieve this.”