Editor’s comment: Toying with Nazanin is so unfair

A tearful Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says goodbye to daughter Gabriella before returning to Evin pris

A tearful Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says goodbye to daughter Gabriella before returning to Evin prison. Picture: RICHARD RATCLIFFE - Credit: Archant

When I met Richard Ratcliffe earlier this month, I was struck by his eloquence and hope.

But reading his latest interview, it is clear that Nazanin’s despair at returning to jail was devastating for both him and Gabriella, who has already been forced to grow up far beyond her four years by her mum’s cruel imprisonment.

After three days’ release on furlough, and the expectation it would be extended, Nazanin and her lawyer learnt on Sunday that she would be waking up the next morning in jail after all, as she had done every day bar three for the last 28 months.

Remember Nazanin’s temporary release was first supposed to have been granted over Gabriella’s birthday in June, only to be cancelled at the last minute.

That came after she was marked as eligible for early release in the days before Christmas. There was even a plea to release her in time for the Iranian festival of Nowruz in March.

Meanwhile, since November a second trial on mysterious security charges has been mooted, dropped, then put back on the table, with the risk of an even longer jail term.

Why? Why toy with someone so vulnerable, whose physical and mental health has already suffered badly through forced separation from her family?

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Richard has previously told the Ham&High his wife was being used as a bargaining chip. A judge reportedly said in February Nazanin’s imprisonment was the consequence of a historic £450million debt owed by Britain to Iran.

An international debt is nothing to do with a mum being separated from her baby. The end does not and cannot justify the means.

And even that does not explain the decision to reunite her with her family for three days before cruelly wrenching her away. If Nazanin was a bargaining chip then, what is she now? A plaything?

Nazanin will come home to Britain eventually. But when? That’s now anybody’s guess.