The UK government must reckon with its Nazanin failure

Richard and Gabriella Ratcliffe put a decoration on the Free Nazanin Christmas Tree outside Budgens

Richard and Gabriella Ratcliffe put a decoration on the Free Nazanin Christmas Tree outside Budgens in Belsize Village. - Credit: Polly Hancock

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been in detained in Iran since April 2016. 

She has been threatened, held in solitary confinement, denied healthcare and been repeatedly harassed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). 

She may not currently be in prison, but the electronic tag around her ankle (which her family had to pay for themselves) doesn't let her so much as visit a shop. 

She has been driven to multiple hunger strikes, and had a second trial and longer imprisonment used to keep her and her family in line. 

She has had hopes of a second child jeopardised, and been apart from her family for close to five years. 

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with an image of husband Richard and daughter Gabriella

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe when she was allowed to leave prison on furlough in Spring 2020. - Credit: Free Nazanin


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She will have served her sentence this March, but no one is confident that will see her allowed home. 

And what, in truth has the British government done? Staff from the UK embassy haven't even visited her under house arrest. 

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The facts of Nazanin's case are stark and occasionally we need to be reminded of them. This West Hampstead woman went on holiday expecting to return to her husband and her home. 

It is outrageous that she has had to watch as other Western countries negotiate the release of others held on dubious political charges. Whatever the UK government says, its track record is one of failure to do enough. 

Iran does release prisoners in Nazanin's situation, so why have France, Australia, the USA all been able to get citizens home, when we haven't. 

Diplomatic protection clearly isn't worth the paper it's written on. 

The foreign office said this week it was doing "its utmost" to get Nazanin and others locked up in Iran home. It doesn't look like that from north London. 

READ MORE: Foreign Office claims 'no legal obligation' in cases like Nazanin's

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