Husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe urges government to ‘explicitly’ call for her release, ahead of a Parliamentary debate

Nazanin and Richard Ratcliffe on their first holiday with baby Gabriella.

Nazanin and Richard Ratcliffe on their first holiday with baby Gabriella. - Credit: Archant

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s (Tuesday’s) Parliamentary debate on British prisoners in Iran, organised by Tulip Siddiq MP, he said he hopes our government will offer a more robust condemnation.

Nazanin with her daughter Gabriella.

Nazanin with her daughter Gabriella. - Credit: Archant

West Hampstead mum Nazanin has been imprisoned in Tehran for more than a year, while her daughter, Gabriella, now three, is still living with her grandparents in Iran.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe told the Ham&High: “The government say privately, and sincerely, they are concerned, but it hasn’t worked.

“We’re looking at ways to urge the government to protect Nazanin - and start being more explicit that they are impatient with the Iranian government as well.

“My family, for sure, and most people, would like to have good relations with Iran, but it has to be built on respect and mutual values, and holding a mum and a baby, isn’t.”

Nazanin, 38, a dual-national, lost her appeal against her five year sentence in April this year.

Amnesty International believes she is a “prisoner of conscience” as she worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the BBC.

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Richard said that he is now mainly concerned about Nazanin’s mental health, especially as her moods are quite “volatile”.

She has been refused access to see a female psychologist outside the prison.

Nazanin’s neck pain has lessened, as she has been seeing a physiotherapist regularly.

Daughter Gabriella is allowed to visit her mum once or twice a week, and she has also started going to nursery.

Richard speaks to her on Skype, although she now only speaks five or six words in English and her Farsi is fluent.

He said: “She’s not a chubby little baby that travelled, she’s a little girl now.

“Emotionally, on some levels, Gabriella’s moved on.

“She still calls Nazanin ‘mummy’ but the word ‘mummy’ doesn’t mean what it used to mean to her.”

Addressing Nazanin’s local supporters, Richard added: “Thank you everyone for keeping her name alive.”

Parliament will also be debating two other British-Iranian prisoners: Kamal Foroughi, a grandfather who is serving an seven year prison sentence in Tehran, for charges of espionage and alcohol possession, and Roya Nobakht, a 48-year-old who was arrested while visiting family in Iran and accused of “insulting Islamic sanctities”.

Tulip Siddiq MP said: “British citizens imprisoned abroad deserve their human rights to be upheld. For those detained in Iran, this is rarely the case.

“My constituent, Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, has been detained unlawfully for over one year, and this debate is my latest attempt to raise her plight in Parliament and to demand that the Government acts to ensure her safe return.”

The debate will take place from 4.30pm – 5.30pm, on July 18 in Westminster Hall. Watch the debate live here.