Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: the British-Iranian detainee has arrived back in the UK after 6 years
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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: the British-Iranian detainee has arrived back in the UK after 6 years

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been reunited with her family this morning six years after she was detained in Iran.

Nearly six years after she was detained in Iran, this morning (17 March) Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe underwent an emotional reunion with her husband Richard and daughter Gabriella as she returned to the UK.

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq shared the touching moment Zaghari-Ratcliffe was reunited with her husband and daughter at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, writing: “This picture makes me so happy and so proud of all three of my brave constituents. Thank you everyone for your constant support for this incredible family.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori, who were freed from Iran, landing in the UK this morning
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori, who were freed from Iran, landing in the UK this morning

Following her return, Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s sister-in-law, Rebecca Ratcliffe, told the BBC that the family had gone to a safe house and “Gabriella slept in between Richard and Nazanin for the first time in six years, so [it was] a very special moment”.

Hopes for her release had been raised earlier this week when Siddiq announced that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been given her passport back, nearly six years after she was arrested in Iran while visiting family. 

“She is still at her family home in Tehran. I also understand that there is a British negotiating team in Tehran right now. I will keep posting updates as I get them,” the MP wrote on Twitter.

Iranian authorities alleged Zaghari-Ratcliffe was plotting to topple the government in Tehran, but no official charges were made public. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said she was leading a “foreign-linked hostile network” when she visited the country, which she has always denied.

After it was confirmed that the British-Iranian national had boarded a flight out of Iran, Richard Ratcliffe shared his hopes for the future following his wife’s return.

Speaking to reporters yesterday afternoon, he said Nazanin’s return would mark the “beginning of a new life”.

“There will be bumps no doubt and all the normal squabbles we had before, but we’re really looking forward to seeing her,” he said. “Homecoming is a journey, not an arrival […] There will be a whole process, and hopefully we’ll look back in years to come and just be a normal family and this will be a chapter in our lives, but there are many more chapters to come.” 

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s detainment was a high-profile case, with a long campaign from Richard Ratcliffe for her release, including a 21-day hunger strike in October last year outside the UK Foreign Office.

Successive foreign secretaries led efforts to secure Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release, but Boris Johnson’s government has repeatedly been criticised for its failure to negotiate her freedom.

Protestors rally to support efforts to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Protestors rally to support efforts to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

According to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family, she was told by local authorities that she was being detained because of the UK’s failure to pay an outstanding £400m debt to Iran.

The government has accepted it should pay the “legitimate debt” for an order of 1,500 Chieftain tanks that were not fulfilled after the shah was deposed and replaced by a revolutionary regime.

About a dozen Western dual nationals are still believed to be held by Iran.

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Images: Getty