'In this government game of chess' – Nazanin freed but new court date set

Nazanin, before her incarceration, with baby Gabriella

Nazanin, before her incarceration, with baby Gabriella - Credit: Ratcliffe family

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has had her ankle tag removed but has been summoned to appear in court next weekend. 

The West Hampstead mum has been held since 2016, when she was sentenced to five years in prison over allegations, which she strongly denies, of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.

Husband Richard said his wife was “genuinely happy” after having her ankle tag removed, but said: “It’s a mixed day for us – Nazanin is genuinely happy that the ankle tag is off and she has gone to visit her grandmother and the family of one of the other British Iranians held. Both things that she has not been able to do for many months.

“She is having a nice afternoon, has turned her phone off and is not thinking about the rest of it.

“I’m a bit more guarded – it feels to me like they have made one blockage just as they have removed another, and we very clearly remain in the middle of this government game of chess.

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“I’m grateful for the foreign secretary’s strong words today and the intervention of the British Embassy this morning. But she remains in harm’s way, even if today she is determined not to feel it.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted on Sunday: “Pleased to see the removal of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle tag, but her continued confinement remains totally unacceptable. She must be released permanently so she can return to her family in the UK, and we continue to do all we can to achieve this.”

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The end of Nazanin's effective house arrest was one of the things husband Richard had called for - as today marks the conclusion of her sentence - but the revived spectre of a second trial is something her supporters have feared.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said Nazanin must be allowed to return home. 

“We welcome the removal of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle tag, but Iran continues to put her and her family through a cruel and an intolerable ordeal," he said.

“She must be released permanently so she can return to her family in the UK. We will continue to do all we can to achieve this.

“We have relayed to the Iranian authorities in the strongest possible terms that her continued confinement is unacceptable.”

This week Nazanin's MP, Tulip Siddiq, called for Nazanin to be given her passport back, to have her ankle tag removed and to be visited by the UK officials in Iran.

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