September 25, 2021

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe sends her daughter back to UK after three years of prison visits in Iran


Agony for jailed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe as she sends her five-year-old daughter back to the UK after three years of weekly prison visits in Iran

  • Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe will return by Christmas to start school in London
  • Her mother Nazanin has been held by Tehran since 2016 over false accusations she was working as a spy
  • Boris Johnson discussed her release with Iran’s president at the UN summit

By Jake Hurfurt For The Daily Mail

Published: 20:55 EDT, 3 October 2019 | Updated: 20:57 EDT, 3 October 2019

The young daughter of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe will return to Britain by Christmas to start school in London.

Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe, five, has visited her mother in an Iranian prison once a week for the past three years.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 41, has been held by Tehran since 2016 over false accusations she was working as a spy.

Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe, five, (pictured with her mother) has visited Nazanin in an Iranian prison once a week for the past three years but is now being sent back to the UK for school

Gabriella has been staying with her mother’s family in Iran since Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at the capital’s airport when her daughter was 22 months old.

However her family have now decided that Gabriella should return to London in order to build a life in the UK, it was reported last night.

Last month Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was taken in chains to a psychiatric hospital but was returned to Evin prison cell a week later. 

Since then she has not been allowed visits from her daughter or phone calls to her husband Richard, who campaigns for her release in London.

The British-Iranian mother-of-one is serving a five-year sentence but there are concerns she is being used as a bargaining chip in a decades-old row over a £400 million arms debt owed by the British Government.

In a moving open letter sent by Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, that had to be smuggled out of her jail, she pleaded for her release.

The British-Iranian mother-of-one is being held in Tehran over false accusations she was working as a spy

She wrote: ‘In the near future, my baby will leave me to go to her father and start school in the UK. 

‘It will be a daunting trip for her travelling, and for me left behind. 

‘And the authorities who hold me will watch on, unmoved at the injustice of separation. 

‘That first day of school not for me.’

Mr Zaghari-Ratcliffe said his wife was giving up her visits with Gabriella to let their daughter live her life in the country of her birth.

He has not been able to visit his wife in Iran and has been forced to keep in touch with Gabriella on Skype. 

After a year family members had to translate when his daughter had lost the ability to speak English. 

He said: ‘She does need to come to school, she does need to start a life.’

But he described her return to London as a one-way trip, The Times reported.

In her letter Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe described the emotion of her daughter’s visits, writing: ‘My heart pounds much more than usual every Sunday morning – when I get to see my Gabriella in the visiting room of Evin prison, full of excitement. 

When the door of the visiting room opens, and the prisoners are allowed in, it is my little girl who runs towards me first, calling out my name, rushing to my cuddle.

‘Those brief minutes might be the shortest of cuddles, but without doubt the most beautiful and uplifting cuddles in the whole world. They are my world.’

Describing how she will feel after her daughter returns to the UK, she added: ‘I have no hope or motivation after my baby goes. There is no measure to my pain.’ 

Mr Zaghari-Ratcliffe hopes that the regime in Tehran will release his wife soon, so his daughter will not have to make the long journey on her own.

‘We are hoping that she won’t have to be parted,’ he said.

Boris Johnson discussed Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe with Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran, at last week’s UN summit in New York. 


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