Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe speaking to family for five hours a day since release

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been able to spend as much as five hours a day chatting with her family since her release from an Iranian jail, her husband has said.

The British-Iranian mother was freed from Evin prison in Tehran on March 17 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, along with about 85,000 other prisoners.

The former aid worker from north London had been due to return to prison over the weekend, but her family said she has been given a reprieve to remain at her parents’ house in the country’s capital until May 20.

Downing Street has called on the Iranian authorities to use the opportunity to allow the 42-year-old to return to the UK for good.

Richard Ratcliffe, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, revealed that the family are able to talk via video calls for about four to five hours a day.

“Nazanin was out for three days back in summer of 2018 and we had a couple of calls then, but it was so tense and so uncertain and they were being harassed all the time. This is a lot more normal,” he told the Emma Barnett Show.

“We have been complaining about the prosaic of home schooling and normal parenting – it’s been nice to muddle our way through that together.

“It’s funny how quickly that almost becomes normal again seeing her on a Skype screen and being able to talk to her late at night and early in the morning. It’s lovely.”

Mr Ratcliffe said their five-year-old daughter, Gabriella, had taken time to get used to seeing her mother again on such a frequent basis.

Coronavirus
Richard Ratcliffe said the family have been able to speak for up to five hours a day since his wife’s release (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“Gabriella was a bit disorientated when Nazanin first came out as to why she hadn’t come to the UK – why had she not come to our house but gone to granny’s house (in Iran),” he added.

“She would be very happy to speak to her, but then have a meltdown after every phone call.

“One of the ways she’d been coping was not really talking to grandparents or mum in prison.

“But that’s melted away, she has suddenly become a lot happier to share and engage.

“It’s not all been plain sailing but I think it’s beginning to feel a bit more human again.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s MP, Tulip Siddiq, tweeted on Tuesday morning: “Very happy to hear from Richard Ratcliffe that Nazanin’s furlough has been extended for a month – in line with other prisoners in Iran.”

The Labour MP added: “Now is the time for our Government to do all it can to make it permanent.”

Very happy to hear from Richard Ratcliffe that Nazanin’s furlough has been extended for a month – in line with other prisoners in Iran. Now is the time for our government to do all it can to make it permanent. #FreeNazanin

— Tulip Siddiq (@TulipSiddiq) April 21, 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “Our position on Nazanin is that she should not be in prison at all and that she should be allowed to return to the UK to be with her family.

“We have repeatedly raised her case with the Iranian authorities and will continue to do so.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport while taking her young daughter to see her parents in April 2016.

The mother-of-one was sentenced to five years in prison, accused of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government, which she denies.

She was later afforded diplomatic protection by the UK Government, which argues that she is innocent and that her treatment by Iran failed to meet obligations under international law.

Human rights charity Amnesty International said it was “very pleased” for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

It added: “There should be no question of Nazanin ever being sent back to Evin Prison.

“We’re urging the Iranian authorities to finally do the right thing and free Nazanin permanently, allowing her to return to her family back here in Britain.”

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