Coronavirus: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe given temporary release – and ankle tag – amid worldwide pandemic
PUBLISHED: 16:56 17 March 2020 | UPDATED: 18:22 17 March 2020
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been allowed to leave Evin Prison in Iran amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The West Hampstead mum is now on furlough – temporary release – until April 4.
She has been forced to wear an ankle tag which limits her movements to within 300m of her parents’ west Tehran home.
According to her husband, Nazanin said: ““I am so happy to be out. Even with the ankle tag, I am so happy. Being out is so much better than being in – if you knew what hell this place is. It is mental. Let us hope it will be the beginning of coming home.”
Richard Ratcliffe himself continued to push the UK to demand Iranian authorities release Nazanin for good.
He said: “My feelings today have been all of a mix – pleased at the happiness for Nazanin and Gabriella, but fear this is a new drawn out game of chess, and trepidation over how furlough last time ended. It is hard to relax just yet.”
He added: “This furlough is a positive step, but it is not a victory – a two week release with a permanent ankle tag and a 300m range is obviously not meant to be a solution. For the IRGC I am sure it is meant to look like house arrest. But we are hoping it is a confidence building measure and that things will move forward from here.” Tulip Siddiq, Nazanin’s local MP, added: “We are pleased and relieved that Nazanin will be with her family rather than in jail at this time of terrible chaos and uncertainty.
“However, we have been here before and know from past experience that Nazanin will be treated like a prisoner in her own home. The UK government must get reassurances from Iran that she won’t be harassed or intimidated while on temporary release.
“Ministers should also be doing absolutely everything they can to make this release permanent. This includes resolving the debt we owe to Iran and making Nazanin’s case a deal-breaker in their ongoing negotiations with the Iranian Government.”
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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “I am relieved that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was today temporarily released into the care of her family in Iran.
“We urge the regime to ensure she receives any necessary medical care.
“While this is a welcome step, we urge the government now to release all UK dual nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran, and enable them to return to their families in the UK.”
On Monday, the Iranian press reported the nation’s UK ambassador Hamid Baeidinijad as saying the British government was in talks over how to pay back the £400m it has owed Iran since the 1970s and which has been understood as a key stumbling block in negotiating Nazanin’s release.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport while travelling to show her young daughter, Gabriella, to her parents in April 2016.
Responding to news, Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said: “The immediate priority is that Nazanin gets proper medical care, including a full coronavirus check-up.
“Beyond the immediate health concerns, let’s not lose sight of where we are - Nazanin is a prisoner of conscience, convicted after a deeply unfair trial who should never have been behind bars at all.
“We’re now calling on the Iranian authorities to end Nazanin’s ordeal and finally allow her to return to her family in the UK as soon as she’s well enough to travel and as soon as any coronavirus travel restrictions allow.”
Richard, and daughter Gabriella are set to, on Wednesday, join the family of Anousheh Ashoori at a protest outside of the foreign office.
Mr Ashoori is another UK-Iranian dual-national being held in Iran. It is unknown at this stage if he too has been released temporarily.