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Free Nazanin: Family and supporters of jailed West Hampstead mum to mark daughter’s birthday with Foreign Office protest

PUBLISHED: 13:45 11 June 2018 | UPDATED: 13:58 11 June 2018

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and daughter Gabriella in happier times. Picture: Ratcliffe family

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and daughter Gabriella in happier times. Picture: Ratcliffe family

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Campaigners for the release of West Hampstead mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has spent more than two years in Iranian prison, will tonight mark her daughter’s birthday by lighting candles outside the Foreign Office.

Ribbons, jokes, hand-made flowers and painted stones are added to a tree in Fortune Green in West Hampstead on the second anniversary of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's detention in Iran. Picture: John Stillwell/PA WireRibbons, jokes, hand-made flowers and painted stones are added to a tree in Fortune Green in West Hampstead on the second anniversary of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's detention in Iran. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

It’s her family’s latest appeal for the government to step in to protect Nazanin.

Nazanin’s husband Richard Ratcliffe said he and the family’s supporters will be lighting 800 candles – one for every day Nazanin has been behind bars, and each representing the fourth candle on Gabriella’s birthday cake.

It comes after a fresh cruel heartbreak for Nazanin and her family: Nazanin had hoped to be able to spend Gabriella’s birthday with her daughter, but – despite the Islamic Revolutionary Court Judge Salavati approving a temporary release – she was not allowed to leave prison to celebrate with her daughter as the leave was not approved in time by the prosecutor’s office.

Instead, Nazanin’s family were able to visit her, although she was unable to give Gabriella the presents she had made for her, including a flowery dress.

Richard Ratcliffe (right), the husband of jailed British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and Kate Allen from Amnesty International, hand in a letter to the Iranian Embassy in London concerning the continued detention of his wife in Iran. Picture: Yui MokRichard Ratcliffe (right), the husband of jailed British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and Kate Allen from Amnesty International, hand in a letter to the Iranian Embassy in London concerning the continued detention of his wife in Iran. Picture: Yui Mok

Richard said: “Today is a chance to remind Gabriella even at this distance she is the light of our world, and the world can be a bright place.

“For me, this birthday is also a moment of truth, to reflect on where we go from here. If furlough doesn’t happen, after the judge, prosecutor and head of prison have all approved, then we need to accept that no turning point is also a sign – that it is still a long road ahead, that we need more clearly the government’s protection.”

Gabriella has been in Iran with her grandparents since her mother was arrested while the pair were on holiday, and her own British passport was confiscated.

The Iranian justice department has publicly claimed Nazanin was trying to overthrow Iran’s government, which the charity worker’s family say is nonsense.

Richard Ratcliffe holds a photograph of himself with wife Nazanin and daughter Gabriella, in front of a decorated tree in Fortune Green in West Hampstead on the second anniversary of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's detention in Iran. Picture: John Stillwell/PA WireRichard Ratcliffe holds a photograph of himself with wife Nazanin and daughter Gabriella, in front of a decorated tree in Fortune Green in West Hampstead on the second anniversary of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's detention in Iran. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Nazanin said in a statement through her family: “I did not prepare for the birthday in prison this year – did not ask for permission to make Gabriella a cake, or send her presents. My hands wouldn’t write the application, however hard I tried.

“I wanted to give her the presents at home. I did not want to face another birthday in Evin.”

Nazanin’s MP Tulip Siddiq will also do a reading at tonight’s demonstration. She appealed to the Iranian government to release Nazanin on humanitarian grounds.

She said: “Gabriella has now spent half of her life separated from her parents.

“This is why I am again appealing directly to the Iranian leadership to release Nazanin on humanitarian grounds.

“My constituent is innocent and securing her release remains an imperative for Richard, myself, and the many thousands of supporters fed up of this injustice.”

This weekend saw the Iranian courts confirm that a date has been set for Nazanin’s second trial – on charges of spreading propaganda, although she was not told of the date.

Nazanin will also be forced to represent herself at the trial, after her chosen lawyer was rejected and she refused to select another from a pre-approved list of 20 names.

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