Talks to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe have made a breakthrough with the British-Iranian national on her way home to the UK.
Yesterday, British MP Tulip Siddiq confirmed that Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, had been given back her passport by authorities in Iran in a sign that negotiations were moving forwards.
Two detained British-Iranians Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anousheh Ashouri have boarded a plane at Tehran airport with the intention of flying home to the UK.
“It’s been 6 long years – and I can’t believe I can finally share this photo,” wrote Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, sharing a photo of constituent Zaghari-Ratcliffe on board a flight to Britain. “Nazanin is now in the air flying away form 6 years of hell in Iran. My heart goes out to Gabriella and Richard, as her long journey back home to them gets closer by the minute.”
“I am very pleased to confirm that the unfair detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori in Iran has ended today, and they will now return to the UK,” tweeted Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “The UK has worked intensively to secure their release and I am delighted they will be reunited with their families and loved ones.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker from Hampstead, northwest London, was first jailed in 2016 while visiting her family following accusations that she was plotting against the regime – a claim she has consistently denied. She was initially imprisoned for under a five year sentence, but has spent an additional year under house arrest at her parents’ home.
The detention of dual nationals in Iran, including Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has been linked to a £400m debt owed by the UK to Iran for 1,500 tanks ordered in the 1970s. The UK government has now paid the debt, which is believed to have prompted the decision to free British political prisoners in Iran.
Nazanin’s husband Richard Ratcliffe, who lives with their 7-year-old daughter Gabriella in London, has campaigned for her release since she was detained.