Ministers urged to help win freedom for woman detained in Iran

Updated: 

The father of a British-Iranian woman imprisoned in Tehran asked a Government minister to "do what you can to bring my daughter back", her husband said.

Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt met the parents of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe during an official visit to Iran in which he raised her incarceration with senior politicians in the hardline Islamic country.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 38, a mother-of-one, has suffered severe physical and mental trauma since being arrested as she tried to leave Tehran last year with her daughter Gabriella following a holiday.

The charity worker was accused of plotting to topple the regime, which she denies, and later sentenced to five years in prison.

Richard Ratcliffe, her British husband, told the Press Association that Mr Burt had told his wife's Iranian family her plight was "one of his top priorities" when they spoke ahead of his official meetings with senior Iranian politicians.

Mr Ratcliffe, from Hampstead, north-west London, said the meeting had been "humane" and Mr Burt had passed on two teddies including a Paddington Bear to Gabriella.

His daughter is being prevented from leaving Iran and is being cared for by her grandparents.

Mr Ratcliffe added: "He (her father) said 'please do what you can to bring my daughter back'.

"In terms of the meeting, it was very humane.

"In terms of what happened when he met the ministers ... yesterday in the Iranian press there was a lot of coverage of him raising the case of the Iranian dual-nationals.

"The fact that she was mentioned is a good sign, but it has not led to anything more than that so far."

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran Airport in April last year and has been held for just shy of 500 days.

She has been held in solitary confinement at the capital's Evin prison for the past nine months and is suffering from mental health problems, as well as physical issues with her shoulder, neck, eyesight and teeth, her family say.

Mr Burt tweeted on Sunday: "Pleased to meet family of detained #Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe while in Tehran and present Gabriella with gifts from her family in the UK."

As well as Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe he was also due to raise the plight of Kamal Foroughi.

The 77-year-old is held in the same jail for alleged espionage in Iran and has also strenuously maintained his innocence since being arrested in 2011.

Roya Nobakht is another British-Iranian being held in Evin prison, having been jailed for five years in 2013 for making anti-government comments on Facebook.

Amnesty International UK warned the Government last week that it must "significantly raise its game" over the detainees.