Family receive £125,000 ransom demand to free West Hampstead mum Nazanin from Iranian jail

Nazanin and Richard Ratcliffe with daughter Gabriella

Nazanin and Richard Ratcliffe with daughter Gabriella - Credit: Archant

The family of West Hampstead mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe have reported that they have received an offer to arrange Nazanin’s release from jail in return for paying a ransom of 600 million Iranian toman to a fixer - the equivalent of £125,000.

Nazanin with her daughter Gabriella

Nazanin with her daughter Gabriella - Credit: Archant

The demand was made by someone claiming to have “connections with the Judiciary” to facilitate her release.

But it has been rejected by Nazanin’s husband RIchard Ratcliffe who has branded the fixer as an opportunist making a “predatory attempt” to exploit his family’s vulnerability.

Richard revealed that the offer was made to Nazanin’s Iranian family on Thursday night via a relative who had been approached.

But he said: “It is unlikely the person had an official mandate from the Judiciary to negotiate. We believe them to be someone looking to exploit the vulnerable situation of Nazanin’s family, moved to look at desperate options following the inexplicable failure of her appeal.

“In return for payment the contact promised was to liaise with judiciary officials to quietly arrange her release. Payment would have been required only upon release,” he added.

As reported in the Ham&High, on April 3 charity worker Nazanin - who has dual Iranian and British nationality - was arrested with Gabriella, at Tehran airport as they prepared to return home from a holiday visiting her parents.

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Nazanin was thrown into jail without charge and Gabriella’s British passport was confiscated.

The toddler is now being looked after by her Iranian grandparents.

In August Nazanin was sentenced to five years in jail with no clear charges. Her family launched an appeal which was heard by the Revolutionary Court on January 4. Nazanin and daughter Gabriella

Last week her appeal against her sentence was rejected by the Iranian Revolutionary Court.

Although the exact charges against Nazanin have never been officially revealed, her Iranian lawyer has now been told she has been charged with: “Membership of organisations aimed at disrupting national security.” He has provided no further comment to the family.

Richard said that he was making the ransom offer and his family’s refusal public as a message to others who try to exploit his family.

“The emotional strain of this experience for my wider family continues to astonish. This is a predatory attempt to exploit a suffering family. It also highlights the attempts to exploit the legal system. I continue to hope that justice is served,”he said.

“Our view is that her case is one that requires government level negotiations, where encouraging these kinds of offers risks creating all sorts of disruptions and additional claims.

“I have reassured my family in Iran, that although it looks bleak, the UK is continuing to negotiate to end her ordeal. Nazanin is not abandoned; we will bring her home. This nightmare will end.”