'Nazanin needs her passport back on Sunday' – Tulip Siddiq MP

Tulip Siddiq says the Government 'needs a plan' to bring Nazanin home. 

Tulip Siddiq says the Government 'needs a plan' to bring Nazanin home. - Credit: PA

Update (March 7): Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe 'freed' but faces further court appearance

British diplomats in Iran must ensure Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is given her passport back and must visit her at her parents' Tehran home this weekend, her MP has demanded.

Talking to the Ham&High, Tulip Siddiq said it is imperative that, with Nazanin's prison sentence ending, the foreign office steps up its efforts to bring her home. 

Nazanin, from West Hampstead, has been detained in Iran since 2016, accused of spying – charges has always denied – and her sentence ends on Sunday, March 7.

Tulip said making sure Iranian authorities hand over Nazanin's passport and remove her ankle tag, and visiting her would be a good place to start. 

""It's more about using that date as a means of getting a few things we want and then getting her home in the next few weeks," Tulip said. 

Richard Ratcliffe

Richard Ratcliffe said the UK's failure to rescue his wife Nazanin and others like her detained in Iran was a "blot on democracy". - Credit: PA

"We've been fighting this campaign for a long time, so I've learned not to let my kind of expectations get too high, because I just think you're going to face some disappointment if that happens."

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The Hampstead and Kilburn MP said her "main worry" was the Nazanin would be "held hostage until the debt is resolved". 

Iranian officials have previously told Nazanin her arrest is linked to the British non-payment of around £400m dating back to an abortive arms deal in the late 1970s. 

MP for Hampstead and Kilburn Tulip Siddiq

MP for Hampstead and Kilburn Tulip Siddiq - Credit: PA/ Lauren Hurley

Tulip said: "It's quite heartbreaking to think about the reality of what's happening. I really hope the Foreign Office take all of this into consideration and pay the debt back and they do all they can."

She added she has "heard so many times" from the Prime Minister and other government officials that they were "doing all they can", and added: "He's always used those phrases and in the end Nazanin hasn't come home in five years - so forgive me for being sceptical."

Tulip said she is "waiting to see what develops in the case", but also what steps UK officials are prepared to take.

Ahead of her release the campaigning and advocacy group REDRESS has written to the UN to again raise Nazanin's detention and highlight fears that the mooted second court case against her could be used to prevent her from home.

REDRESS has helped Nazanin's family with legal representation and its director, Rupert Skilbeck, said: "“From day one Nazanin’s imprisonment has been illegal under Iranian and international law.

"She is a victim of Iran’s ‘hostage-diplomacy’. Iran has never followed the rule of law in Nazanin’s case and we have grave fears that this second case will be used by the Iranian regime to block her release in March 2021.”

Earlier this week Richard Ratcliffe said he felt the UK government's actions with regard to citizens detained in Iran have been a "blot on British diplomacy".

He said with Nazanin's sentence ending, a "fig leaf" for the Iranian authorities is being removed, and the UK government needs to show it is ready to take steps to bring his wife home to West Hampstead.

In the ten days leading up to the March 7 date, which should herald Nazanin's release, high-profile supporters and the families of other Brits held in Iran have been reading poems written by Nazanin and some of the other women to have been held in Tehran's Evin Prison in solidarity with her. 

A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) said: "The Foreign Secretary and FCDO remain in close contact with Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family, and continue to provide our support.

“We do not accept Iran detaining dual British nationals as diplomatic leverage. The regime must end its arbitrary detention of all dual British nationals.

“We continue to do everything we can to secure the release of arbitrarily detained dual British nationals so that they can be reunited with their loved ones."