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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband hopeful for her permanent release

The charity worker returned to prison on Sunday following a temporary three-day release

Richard Ratcliffe, husband of Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe. Reuters
Richard Ratcliffe, husband of Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe. Reuters

The husband of a British Iranian woman jailed in Tehran has said he is confident his wife is moving towards freedom, despite dashed hopes for an extension of her temporary release from prison.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was released on Thursday for three days on furlough to visit her parents and her four-year-old daughter, Gabriella.

Although officials had indicated that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe would be allowed to remain with her family for longer than the three days, the charity worker was returned to Tehran’s Evin prison on Sunday.

Richard Ratcliffe, who is unable to get a visa visit Iran, said it was “crushing” knowing that his wife would be away from their daughter again.

“Gabriella was very tearful and Nazanin was trying to keep her going and tell her ‘I promise you mummy will come out again soon and next time it will be permanent’,” Mr Ratcliffe said, describing the moment his wife was separated from their daughter to Channel 4 News.

However, Mr Ratcliffe, who has campaigned tirelessly for his wife’s release from jail since she was arrested in April 2016, said he was hopeful Ms Zaghari Ratcliffe would be reunited with their daughter again soon.

“I’m sure one day she’ll be released. It’s been tough yesterday and today,” he told the broadcaster.

“It’s not that long now until she gets to 900 days, which is half of her sentence and when she’ll be eligible for unconditional release. That’s in three weeks’ time and will be the next thing to focus on.”

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained by the Iranian authorities for allegedly agitating to overthrow the government. She denies the charges and said she was there on holiday visiting her family.

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Read more:

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe returned to Iran jail

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe released from prison in Iran

UK turmoil hits bid to free jailed woman in Iran

Iran to try jailed British-Iranian aid worker on fresh charges

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In November 2017, former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson caused a setback when he mistakenly said that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been training journalists in Iran. He later retracted his comment.

Mr Ratcliffe praised Britain’s new foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt for his handling of the case, adding that Mr Hunt had given more priority over the plight of the mother-of-one than his predecessor.

“One of my complaints with the government was that it didn’t feel like it was sort of treating her case with the public severity that I thought it deserved,” Mr Ratcliffe said.

“He’s been great in that sense: he’s been clear and critical and he’s said ‘listen, she’s innocent and she shouldn’t be in prison, her treatment has been appalling’, and all the things that we’ve been asking the Government to do.”