A Heartbroken Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Has Sent Her Daughter Back To The UK

'I don’t know how my wife will cope without Gabriella,' Richard Ratcliffe tells Grazia.

Richard Ratcliffe

by As Told To Ali Pantony |

Last week, British woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, who has been held for over three years in an Iranian prison, made the decision to send her daughter home to London. Her husband Richard Ratcliffe tells Grazia about the reunion.

Last Thursday, I got to hold my five-year-old daughter Gabriella again after three and a half years apart. It’s incredible to be reunited with her. We had a ‘welcome home’ cake and Gabriella has said she’s keen to go straight to a toy shop. She’s quite traumatised, so it’s going to take time for her to settle in. We’re both feeling a roller coaster of emotions. She’s being so brave considering she hasn’t seen me for so long.

It’s turmoil hearing how upset Nazanin is, though, now she won’t have Gabriella around. When Gabriella was in Iran, she was seeing Nazanin for 45 minutes each week. Those 45 minutes were Nazanin’s coping mechanism; her shred of hope. That’s why the decision we’ve made to bring Gabriella home to London, to live with me and start school, has been so difficult.

Nazanin and I both know that this is where our daughter’s future is. Gabriella is excited to go to school and see her cousins, but she’s confused, too. She’s asked, ‘Why hasn’t Mummy come home with me?’

Meanwhile, last Monday in Tehran, Nazanin appealed to the Iranian health commission on the grounds that she is too unwell to be in prison. As she was entering the courtroom, her legs went numb and she collapsed. She was eventually carried in by prison guards. What followed was a tearful plea from Nazanin asking to be freed, explaining that, following a hunger strike in July, she was chained to a bed in a psychiatric unit, put in solitary confinement and deprived of medication. We don’t yet know when the Iranian judiciary will make a decision.

Our daughter is asking: Why hasn't Mummy come home with me?

When this magazine hits newsstands, it will be day 1,294 of Nazanin being imprisoned. She was arrested in April 2016 for espionage and sentenced to five years in jail. Last week, spying charges were dropped against British-Australian Jolie King and her fiancé Mark Firkin, after they were arrested for flying a drone near a military campsite. After three months, they were freed in an apparent quid-pro-quo prisoner swap. How can the Australian government get two of their citizens released, when the UK hasn’t managed it after three and a half years?

Our Government acknowledges Nazanin’s innocence because, under international law, she is being ‘arbitrarily detained’ – that is, unfairly imprisoned. But it’s time they acknowledged Nazanin for what she is: a hostage. And it’s not just my wife being held hostage, but Gabriella too, as she won’t see her mother now.

Until last week, Gabriella lived with her grandparents in Tehran, and because Iran wouldn’t grant me a visa, I hadn’t seen her since she was almost two. We spoke on Skype three times a week, but her English has suffered. Gabriella will still be able to speak to her mum. We get twice weekly phonecalls for about eight minutes, but they can be taken away.

I don’t know how my wife will cope without Gabriella. It means the fight to free Nazanin is more important than ever. Not least because she wants another child. She says: ‘I have been denied motherhood, unable to watch my little girl grow up, and as each day goes by, I’m being robbed of the chance to have another baby.’

I will continue to ask the Prime Minster to meet with me because, as yet, he has not acknowledged my request. He made a promise to ‘leave no stone unturned’ and he has not delivered. I want him to tell me, face to face, how he is going to bring my wife home safe. Because every day Nazanin is in prison, he is letting her down.

I will continue to campaign with groups such as the Families Alliance Against State Hostage Taking, which we launched last month, and we will get through this. I will continue to tell my wife that it isn’t OK today, but it will be tomorrow. And eventually, tomorrow will come.

READ MORE :Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Is 'In A Psychiatric Hospital' Says Husband

READ MORE: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Has Been Jailed In Iran On ‘Secret Charges’

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us