26 Jul 2019

Student held in same Iranian prison as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says she was psychologically tortured

A London student, who once campaigned for Boris Johnson, was held in the same prison as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, where she says she was psychologically tortured, sentenced to death and charged with being an MI6 spy.


A London student, who once campaigned for Boris Johnson, was held in the same prison as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, where she says she was psychologically tortured, sentenced to death and charged with being an MI6 spy.

● In 2016, Ana Diamond, an Iranian-EU dual national and 24-year-old student at King’s College London, says she was imprisoned and tortured in the notorious Evin Prison for eight months.

● Ms Diamond says the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) charged her with 52 counts, three of which carried the death penalty: espionage, blasphemy and ‘corruption on earth’.

● For more than seven months, Ms Diamond describes being kept in the same solitary confinement block as British-Iranian dual-national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

● Ms Diamond says she was subjected to psychological torture, 10-hour interrogations, and a mock execution.

● Photos she had of herself with the then Prime Minister David Cameron, and the fact she had campaigned for Boris Johnson in the 2012 London mayoral election, were apparently key evidence used against her by the IRGC.

● Ms Diamond says she has finally been acquitted of all crimes. She and her parents are now safe in the UK.

● Since returning, Ms Diamond has required two heart operations to treat a condition she was told was brought on by her ordeal.

In 2014, Ana Diamond, a 19 year old Finnish-Iranian dual national, touched down in Tehran. This was the first time she had returned to Iran in 16 years, and she says she immediately caught the attention of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

In an exclusive interview with Channel 4 News’ International Editor Lindsey Hilsum, Ms Diamond says this was the start of a nightmare that would see her and her father sentenced to death and subjected to psychological torture at the hands of the IRGC in the notorious political prison Evin in Tehran.

The 24-year-old, who returned to the UK on 26th July 2018, describes the impact of her imprisonment: “It’s crazy because I still get flashbacks and I still I get nightmares. And up until very recently I would I would wake up crying and reliving the experience.

“And you know people say that I look like I’ve recovered quite well but it’s I think it comes down to when I’m alone. And when dark moments come in.” Early on in her imprisonment she says guards told her the sounds she could hear outside her cell were her mum being beaten:

“And then on occasion they were like beating someone up a female. And then I was told that, ‘oh did you hear about the girl. It’s not a girl is your mom…’”

As bad as the 10-hour interrogation sessions – in which she describes being accused of spying for Mi6, Mossad and the CIA could be – she says it was more “devastating” to be left alone for days on end:

“I really want to emphasise how devastating solitary is because that is just you, with your thoughts, and not the thoughts that you would regularly have, but the thoughts that are just breaking you.”

In a heart-stopping interview Ms Diamond describes being woken at 5am and told she is going to be executed:

“And from beneath my blindfold I saw the officer having a gun. I was like now it’s my time to grab that gun and go for it. And I’m glad I didn’t. But it was so close because I said, I mean, I’m going I’m going to die. Why not?

“I could hear the gunshots and the shooting and the shouting. And it was as if everything was just around me and the slightest noise, the wind, everything… I felt them so close to my skin.

“And I was just waiting there almost frozen. And I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t think of anything. I was… I think I was praying. I don’t know what he’s doing.

“And it just felt like time was moving really slowly.

“I was frozen and still like thinking back. It’s so difficult because I feel like there is that point when where you are just trying to put your thoughts together to say something that will stop them.

“But you don’t want to beg because you are so hurt you don’t want to be like, ‘ please don’t kill me’.

“And also there was a level of stubbornness to me, because, I said, I haven’t done this. I’m not going to confess.

“I’m not going to tell them what they want to hear, because if I die I want to die as someone who didn’t and bend down to a false confession.”


“But then… he sort of chuckled and said to me, ‘so it’s your lucky day. Get up. He didn’t have time’.”

Ms Diamond says the recent news that fellow Evin detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was moved to a psychiatric hospital was “the last straw”, and that she should break her silence.

Ms Diamond explains: “when I heard that Nazanin had been taken to the psychiatric hospital and I said, you know what, it would almost be selfish to not to speak up.”

The Iranian government has consistently denied allegations of torture and other ill treatment.