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Distraught West Hampstead mum Nazanin Ratcliffe sentenced to five years in jail in Iran

PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 September 2016 | UPDATED: 18:55 09 September 2016

Nazanin with husband Richard and newborn baby Gabriella in West Hampstead

Nazanin with husband Richard and newborn baby Gabriella in West Hampstead

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A devastated West Hampstead mother was today facing five years alone in an Iranian jail cell after being sentenced by a court in Tehran

The Ratcliffe family on holiday in ShirazThe Ratcliffe family on holiday in Shiraz

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, will be separated from her two-year-daughter Gabriella and accountant husband Richard and kept in “severe conditions” in the high security wing of the notorious Evin prison after a judge passed the five-year sentence without revealing the charges on which she is being held.

Husband Richard heard the heartbreaking news in a distressed phone call from his wife at 9am this morning.

She told him: “I can’t bear to be in this place any longer. It has been horrendous. I do not want to wake up each morning and remember where I am. I want to stay in my dreams.

“I have been here so long. Do you understand what it is like to be a mother kept away from her child this long. I have missed over a fifth of her life. What does that do to her?

Foreign Office statement

“We are deeply concerned by reports that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been sentenced without confirmation of the charges made against her. The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have both raised her case with their counterparts in Iran and will continue to do so. We have been supporting her family since we were first made aware of her arrest and Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood, met the family this week to reassure them that we will continue to do all we can. While we continue to press the Iranians for consular access and for due process to be followed, we also stand ready to help get her daughter back safely to the UK if requested.”

“I dream about her every night. She is always in my dreams. You are most nights also. I miss you and think about you both all the time.”

Nazanin’s lawyer will now appeal against the sentence, but no date for a hearing has yet been set.

As reported in the Ham&High Nazanin, 37, and daughter Gabriella, now two, were seized at Tehran airport on April 3 as they returned from a family holiday to visit her parents in Iran.

Nazanin, who has dual British Iranian citizenship was thrown into jail without charge. Gabriella’s British passport was seized and she is trapped in Iran being looked after by her grandparents.

Richard Ratcliffe with wife Nazanin and daughter GabriellaRichard Ratcliffe with wife Nazanin and daughter Gabriella

Richard said: “I told her she is much loved, over 800,000 people have signed her petition, and I have thousands of messages for her to read one day. They keep me going now. They will be so important for her journey back once this cruelty is over. I told her we so look forward to having her home.”

He added: “A sentence with secret charges still seems crazy. Literally it is a punishment without a crime.”

He believes his wife is a “bargaining chip” in diplomatic relations between the UK and Iran.

He said: “This sentence was handed down a day after the UK and Iran upgraded diplomatic relations and appointed ambassadors to each others’ countries.

“Nazanin’s detention and charges have always felt like she and Gabriella are being held as a political bargaining chip for internal and international politics.

Richard, who protests charity worker Nazanin’s innocence, said: “It remains extraordinary that Nazanin’s interrogators clarify the sentence but not the crime. Because there is none.”

He held a meeting earlier this week with Tobias Ellwood, the UK minister for Middle East Affairs.

Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation charity where Nazanin worked, said: “I am outraged that Nazanin has been sentenced to five years imprisonment in Iran by Judge Salavati of the Revolutionary Court.

This comes without any charges or evidence being made public.”

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