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Trial of British-Iranian aid worker Zaghari-Ratcliffe postponed, says UK MP

Tulip Siddiq said she had spoken to jailed women's husband Richard Ratcliffe, who had told her the information
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, pictured with her husband and daughter, was arrested in April 2016 at Tehran airport (AFP)

A trial of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe scheduled for Sunday in Iran has been postponed, a British lawmaker said on Sunday, citing a conversation with Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband.

Member of Parliament Tulip Siddiq said in a tweet she had spoken to Richard Ratcliffe, who had told her the information. 

She added that more details would follow later on Sunday.

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There was no immediate comment from Iran's judiciary, Reuters reported.

Last week, Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 41, was summoned by an Iranian Revolutionary Court and informed about a new charge, state television reported.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter after a family visit.

She was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran's clerical establishment. 

Her family and the foundation, a charity that operates independently of media firm Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters, deny the charge.

Debt dispute

Last week, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace acknowledged for the first time - in a letter to Zaghari-Ratcliffe's family - that the government was working to repay a debt to Tehran that could secure her release.

In 1971, the International Military Services (IMS), a British government agency, signed contracts to sell more than 1,500 Chieftain tanks and armoured vehicles to the Shah of Iran.

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The military equipment remained undelivered for years, and the contracts were eventually cancelled after the shah was deposed in the 1979 revolution. 

Iran, after already having paid for the tanks, has demanded that the $525m be returned.

"Nazanin has already been convicted once after a deeply unfair trial, and there should be no question of her being put through that ordeal again," Amnesty International's UK director Kate Allen said last week.

"There have always been concerns that the Iranian authorities were playing cruel political games with Nazanin, and that looks to be the case here. 

"As a matter of absolute urgency the UK government should make fresh representations on Nazanin's behalf, seeking to have any suggestion of a second trial removed."