Foreign office minister visits Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s daughter during Iran trip
- Credit: Archant
The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has welcomed his jailed wife’s case being raised with Iran by a UK government minister.
Richard Ratcliffe’s wife was sentenced to five years in jail in Tehran on secret charges while their daughter, three-year-old Gabriella, remains in the country with her grandparents.
On a visit to the Islamic republic at the weekend foreign office minister Alistair Burt met with his Iranian couterpart to raise Nazanin’s case before going on to meet Gabriella.
Speaking to the Ham&High, Mr Ratcliffe said: “I think they talked in human terms about a young child separated from her mother.
“It feels positive the Iranians are clearly acknowledging they have got her. My reading of this is they are manouevring towards finding a solution. But there was no offer of release,” he added.
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Following the meeting Mr Burt met with Nazanin’s family and presented Gabriella with a Paddington bear cuddly toy.
“The minister was personally standing by Nazanin. It was a good thing he went. But still the government hasn’t called for Nazanin’s release. Seeing the family sends a clear signal. How the Iranian government will respond is not clear,” he said.
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One of the demands the family has is for the British ambassador to be allowed to visit but in a telephone conversation on Monday the minister told Mr Ratcliffe he believed his weekend visit was not the right time to ask.
But Nazanin’s husband understands Mr Burt’s visit to the family has led to the profile of his wife’s case being raised in the Iranian media.
“It’s quite a shocking story in Iran because of the fact that Gabriella is so young. There were varying levels of sympathy in the reports,” he said.
Mr Ratcliffe also said he had learnt the authorities – who had moved Nazanin back into a high security cell during the visit – had told her to expect a visit from her husband at the time of the minister’s visit.
After waiting and waiting for her husband to arrive Nazanin called Mr Ratcliffe in order to ask where he was.
“She described the strangeness of having this promise made and then having it reversed. She had the whole stress of being back in high security.
“She has got to the point where she’s pretty much at the end of her patience. I have to keep battling to make sure she knows she is not forgotten,” he added.