For Nazanin's sake, hostage-taking must be a nuclear deal issue

Richard on the steps of the Iranian Embassy to demand Nazanin's return

Richard on the steps of the Iranian Embassy to demand Nazanin's return - Credit: Polly Hancock

"Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is still waiting..." 

Those words, followed by variations on "to be released", "to receive medical treatment", "to be reunited with her family" or simply "to be free" have graced the pages of the Ham&High for five years. 

She was arrested on April 3 2016. We first wrote about her on May 19. 

And while this newspaper will never shy away from shouting her name - or fighting for causes like hers - it is hugely frustrating to have to repeat ourselves like this, again and again. 

Nazanin, before her incarceration, with baby Gabriella

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

Clearly, it's a far worse Groundhog Day for Richard and the rest of Nazanin's family.


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This is a campaign that should never have needed fighting. Stripped back to the fundamental issues - that Nazanin went to take her baby daughter to meet her parents, on holiday, was stopped from returning and thrown in jail on a farcical pretext - her situation is a nightmare writ large. 

Except of course, as Richard Ratcliffe, Amnesty International UK and countless others have always pointed out, this is not a situation where nothing could have been done. 

Richard is absolutely correct in pointing out that right now a political decision is being made to seek to bring Iran back to the table when it comes to the nuclear deal - without holding the country to account for its use of arbitrary detention as a diplomatic tool. 

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By now, enough international organisations have called out Iran's actions - again following Richard Ratcliffe's lead - as state hostage-taking. 

In the UK, chair of the foreign affairs select committee Tom Tugendhat even added some adjectives, calling it "blatant and brazen hostage-taking". 

Undoubtedly that's what this is - and the UK authorities, along with their global counterparts, need to use every lever at their disposal to stop this happening to people like Nazanin. 

Because otherwise it'll keep happening to people like her and like Aras Amiri, Anoosheh Ashoori, Kylie Moore-Gilbert and many others.

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