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Candlelit vigil for West Hampstead mum held in Iran without charge

PUBLISHED: 16:37 29 June 2016 | UPDATED: 17:28 29 June 2016

Candlelit vigil for Nazanin Ratcliffe opposite 10 Downing Street. Photo: Polly Hancock

Candlelit vigil for Nazanin Ratcliffe opposite 10 Downing Street. Photo: Polly Hancock

Archant

Hundreds of family members, friends and well-wishers attended a candlelit vigil opposite Downing Street for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker held in Iran without charge since April 3.

Richard Ratcliffe (right) hopes the Iranian authorities will show mercy. Photo: Polly HancockRichard Ratcliffe (right) hopes the Iranian authorities will show mercy. Photo: Polly Hancock

Husband Richard Ratcliffe, 41, of Fortune Green Road, led a moving and “quietly spiritual” vigil yesterday, timed to coincide with Laylat al-Qadr, a day in Ramadan when it is believed prayers are answered.

Mr Ratcliffe told the Ham&High: “In Iran, there is a tradition in Ramadan of releasing prisoners.”

He added: “The hope was to reach out to the Iranian authorities in Ramadan – we live in hope.”

Mr Ratcliffe has been seperated from his wife and daughter Gabriella since Nazanin was seized by security forces at Tehran’s main airport as they waited for a flight home after visiting relatives.

Nazanin and Gabriella together before the arrestNazanin and Gabriella together before the arrest

Nazanin, a charity worker with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, is no longer in solitary confinement.

While there have been accusations against Nazanin in Iranian newspapers, there are still no official charges, although her case is being re-opened and re-investigated by authorities in Tehran.

The last time Mr Ratcliffe was able to speak to Nazanin was on May 30, but her mother visited her last week, with her daughter Gabriella, who is living with her grandparents in Iran.

There were vigils in Cardiff and Newbury at the same time as the London vigil and well-wishers were encouraged to light a candle and take a photo for Nazanin.

Two-year-old Gabriella lit a candle for her mother from her temporary home in Iran.

Describing the London vigil, Mr Ratcliffe said: “It was a very touching experience to have so many people there.

“There were lots of family and friends and collegues of mine and Nazanin, people who had signed the petition, and people from Hampstead. It was a nice, kind atmosphere.”

“When Nazanin comes out, she will see that we were there with her.”

There were non-denominational prayers at the vigil and a list was read out of ten Iranian prisoners.

Mr Ratcliffe was reminded of a Quaker verse: “You will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.

“It was reaching out to the God in the Iranian authorities.”

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