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400,000-strong petition for release of West Hampstead mum Nazarin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be presented to David Cameron

PUBLISHED: 11:36 16 May 2016 | UPDATED: 12:47 16 May 2016

Nazanin hugged  daughter Gabriella and sang songs during visit

Nazanin hugged daughter Gabriella and sang songs during visit

Archant

A petition calling for the release of a West Hampstead mother from solitary confinement in Iran has reached more than 400,000 signatures and will be presented to the Prime Minister on Thursday.

Richard Ratcliffe at the meeting with Tulip Siddiq about his wife NazaninRichard Ratcliffe at the meeting with Tulip Siddiq about his wife Nazanin

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, from Fortune Green Road, was seized by security services at Tehran’s main airport with Gabriella, 22 months, on April 3 as they were returning to the UK after visiting relatives.

Husband Richard Ratcliffe, 41, says Gabriella has had her British passport confiscated and is stranded in Iran with her grandparents.

Accountant Mr Ratcliffe, 41, launched a petition, which now has 405,391 signatures, calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene to bring his wife and baby daughter home.

He has enlisted the support of Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq who has slammed David Cameron and foreign office officials for not acting sooner.

Nazanin and Richard Ratcliffe with daughter GabriellaNazanin and Richard Ratcliffe with daughter Gabriella

Nazanin has been held without charge in the Kerman region and unable to see her daughter or family until last week.

Mr Ratcliffe has given an emotional account of the three-hour visit.

He said during a “tightly controlled” visit her family were banned from talking about the interrogations, why or where Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held, the conditions she is being kept in, or about her health.

He said: “But for all that, the visit happened, and Nazanin and Gabriella had around 3 hours together. For the first 15 minutes they just cuddled each other, barely saying a word, remembering.

“They were able to play together and have a normal family lunch of chicken and kebab, and Gabriella was given a doll to play with by the Iranian authorities, which she liked.

“By the end, Nazanin and Gabriella were even able to sing together. A brief holiday from where Nazanin is again now, but precious.”

He said Nazanin was looking stronger than her family had expected

“Yet for a few hours they could still be a normal family. Nazanin was able to send messages back to me about how much she loved me and would soon see me at home,

“I don’t know how or when this will all end. But I do know that my little girl was happy yesterday, singing twinkle, twinkle little star for her dad, and clearly refreshed by seeing her mum.

“Ahead of the politics of next week, as a husband and father belatedly doing my job, I hope the events of this week means our family has turned a corner. My love and thanks to you all.”

Charity worker Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is an active member of the Hampstead Mums Facebook group,

In an interview with the Ham&High Mr Ratcliffe described how creating the petition and seeing the level of support has given him a focus to get through the days without his family.

He said: “The reaction has been fantastic. It is overwhelming. Nazanin is a very social person and will be finding life in confinement away from Gabriella and her family terrible.

Nazanin works as a project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, based in Canary Wharf, which delivers charitable projects around the world but does not work in Iran.

Mr Ratcliffe said: “At first when Nazanin was taken and we didn’t know where she was it was pure fear. Now we know she is alive and safe. The petition has given me something positive to do to fight for her return.

“The whole situation is outrageous.

“It is hard to understand how a young mother and her small child on holiday could be considered an issue of national security. She has been to Iran to visit her family regularly since making Britain her home.”

Ms Sidiq has slammed the Foreign Office and Mr Cameron for being slow to react. She said: “Hostility toward British citizens by a foreign government should be a matter of grave concern. In this case, there has been a clear disregard for the human rights of two British citizens by Iranian authorities.

Ms Siddiq said: “It beggars belief that the UK Foreign Office has been so slow to respond and I am calling for the Prime Minister to act immediately to secure Nazanin and Gabriella’s safe return to Britain.”

Sign the petition here

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