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Husband of jailed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to confront Iranian officials in New York

'Cruel' system saw charity worker released for just three days before being locked up again

30 August, 2018 — By Tom Foot

THE devastated husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – the West Hampstead charity worker locked up in Iran – is preparing to confront Iranian authorities at the United Nations.

Richard Ratcliffe was speaking after a “cruel” week that saw his wife released for three days to spend time with their daughter, Gabriella – the first contact between the pair in more than two years – only to be recalled to jail. Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was yesterday (Wednesday) suffering panic attacks and had been rushed to hospital in what Mr Ratcliffe described as a direct consequence of her ordeal.

He told the New Journal: “It’s a bit early to be all gung-ho now because I am still processing what has happened this week. But my plan is next month to fly out to New York for the United Nations. The Iranians, they will be in New York, and it is my chance to meet with them. It beggars belief, but after two years of my wife being in prison I have never met anyone from Iran’s authorities.”

Mr Ratcliffe added: “In terms of the way something like this can happen, and how it can linger on for so long, something needs to be done about the way countries communicate with each other.”

Mr Ratcliffe described the sensation of the “sudden surplus of good news” on hearing that Nazanin’s temporary release from prison – known as a furlough – had been granted. He said: “We heard a rumour and suddenly it’s get your bags packed and she’s at the door. Then it’s two days of euphoria, a third day of nervousness, and then a fourth day of devastation. I was really worried about her going in, she was really terrible on the phone.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s first contact with her daughter in more than two years

Mr Ratcliffe said he had been overwhelmed after seeing photos of his wife and daughter reunited – the first time he had seen a photo of Nazanin for almost two years. Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been sentenced to five years in an Iranian jail after being convicted of spying on the Tehran government.

Campaigners for her release have praised Jeremy Hunt, the new foreign secretary, who Mr Ratcliffe said was taking the case far more seriously than his predecessor, Boris Johnson. In a statement issued yesterday (Wednesday), Mr Hunt said: “All our thoughts and prayers are with Nazanin and her family today. [It is] unbearable suffering to be apart from her daughter, with her hopes raised then dashed. We must redouble efforts to find a way to get her home.”

Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq said: “How much more can this poor woman take? We need to bring her back home and reunite her with her daughter. “Putting aside political differences, I’m grateful for the strong and positive start Jeremy Hunt has made, demanding the release of my constituent Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.”

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