Free Nazanin: Calls for clarity as West Hampstead mum's sentence draws to a close
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's prison sentence in Iran is due to end on March 7, but her family and friends still do not know whether that means she will be able to come home.
West Hampstead mum Nazanin has been trapped in Tehran accused of spying, which she has always denied, since spring 2016. She is currently under house arrest.
Husband Richard Ratcliffe has asked officials in both the UK and Iran what arrangements are being made for his wife's release at the conclusion of her sentence, but has as yet "had no direct answer".
Reports out of Iran last week suggested the government there had added the money the UK owes it for military deals dating back to the 1970s into its budget for the coming year.
Nazanin has repeatedly been told that payment of $400m relating to tanks the UK did not deliver to Iran is key to resolving her case.
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Richard, along with human rights groups including Amnesty International, has called for the UK government to recognise Nazanin's imprisonment and that of others like her, such as south Londoner Anoosheh Ashoori, as hostage-taking.
On Sunday morning, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said he would leave “no stone unturned” in seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from prison in Iran.
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Appearing on Sky News, he said he had been speaking “particularly intensely” with the Iranian foreign minister since the summer, with the government “pushing as hard as we can to get the immediate release, not in seven weeks, but as soon as possible, on Nazanin and all of our other dual nationals”.
He added: “We have intensified those negotiations and are leaving no stone unturned, and I want to get Nazanin released, absolutely as soon as possible.
“I do not want her inside this arbitrary detention in Evin prison in Tehran a day longer.”
Richard Ratcliffe said Mr Raab's comments were "more positive than expected".
He told the Ham&High it was now a case of seeing whether there is any movement in preparation for a release, in the run-up to the end of Nazanin's sentence on March 7.
"In reality it must be a tug of war going on in Iran over what to do," he said. "But whenever we don’t see any signs of it, it normally means inertia is still winning."