Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe reunited with family in Iran after temporary release from prison
- Credit: Archant
After months of broken promises from the Iranian government and 873 days in jail, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been temporarily released from Iran’s Evin prison and reunited with her four year old daughter Gabriella.
According to husband Richard, Nazanin is “delighted but overwhelmed” to have been allowed out, even if the future remains uncertain.
She is spending her furlough with her extended family, including her parents and daughter Gabriella, who have been celebrating Eid in the city of Damavand.
Richard Ratcliffe told the Ham&High: “It’s been lovely news and it’s great to have more positive things to say, although everything still depends on how things develop over the next few days. Everything is very day-by-day for the time being.”
Richard added that Nazanin’s lawyer was hopeful of getting the furlough, set to run until Sunday, extended, but remained wary. “It’s pretty standard for furlough to be extended, but then nothing about our case has been standard.”
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As a condition of leaving prison Nazanin agreed to rules which forbid her from attending any foreign embassies or conducting any interviews with the media.
However, Nazanin told her husband: “I wasn’t expecting it at all when it was mentioned two weeks ago. I didn’t tell Gabriella or for a long time my mum – so if it didn’t happen I would be the only one to suffer.”
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“I was so emotional to see my grandmother today. I cried so much. I felt so overwhelmed. My dad’s home is not my home – but it is so much better than prison.”
Richard emphasised how surprised he was by the development. He said: “We have been burned by hope before, so it had been easier to presume disappointment would come again. But it didn’t – she is outside those prison walls. And we are all so pleased.”
Nazanin had previously been told she would be allowed out of prison on furlough for Gabriella’s fourth birthday, but this was obstructed by Iranian officials.
The Iranian Ambassador to Britain tweeted: “Mrs. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been granted a three-day release from prison in Iran to reunite with her family. She immediately joined her four-year-old daughter, Gabriella who welcomed her mom with flowers. Lovely picture.”
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s director welcomed the news and said: “We hope two things will now happen – first, that this three-day period will be extended, but far more importantly that it’s followed by her full and unconditional release.
“This has gone on far too long. Nazanin is a prisoner of conscience who should never have been jailed in the first place.”
This comes just days after Richard met Jeremy Hunt for the second time this month, and Richard thanked the foreign secretary for his efforts so far.
He added: “Furlough is not full freedom – we want her home, not just on holiday from prison – but it is still such a good step.
“I promised Nazanin I will keep campaigning until she is home in the UK, so we don’t get caught in some limbo of house arrest. But after 873 days it is a massive step. And we owe a thank you to everyone who has carried us this far.”
Meanwhile the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted in response to the news: “Really good news that Nazanin has been released on furlough, credit to tireless campaigning by husband Richard and her friends.
“But being in prison AT ALL is gross injustice and she must be PERMANENTLY released for which every effort will continue.”
Monique Villa, Nazanin’s boss at the Thomson Reuters foundation, said she was delighted. She added: “We see this as a positive sign and hope that this will lead to her permanent release and an end to her traumatic ordeal for good. Nazanin and her family have waited long
enough for justice.
“It fills my heart with joy to see pictures of her holding her daughter Gabriella, now four years old, in her arms. What’s missing in the picture is Nazanin’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, whose courage and strength throughout has been inspirational.”
Richard is about to travel to Edinburgh to see a play about his wife – Nazanin’s Story – during the city’s fringe festival.