Charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has returned to Tehran’s Evin prison after a failed attempt to extend her temporary release from jail, her husband confirmed on Sunday.
Officials told the British-Iranian dual nation that she could remain with her Iran-based family beyond her three-day period of freedom but later reversed the decision because paperwork had not been signed off, the family said.Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was released on Thursday to be with her daughter and parents after 873 days in custody for what her supporters say were trumped up charges of acting against the regime. The leave – furlough – was initially for three days but similar serving prisoners have been allowed longer and the family were confident of extending her freedom.
She was distraught when she was told she would have to go back to prison. “How can I survive tonight - with those tears of my baby, pouting and crying, and telling me she doesn't want me to go back,” she was quoted as saying by the family.
Free Nazanin, the campaign attempting to secure her release, posted a photo of the moment she was forced to say goodbye to her four-year-old daughter, Gabriella.
Her interrogators had been calling the family every day of her release to let them know her behaviour was being monitored while they considered her application for an extension, the family said.
She had been told not to speak with media, enter UK embassy premises or to seek to leave the country during her period of freedom.
She was arrested in April 2016 as she prepared to leave the country after a trip to her parents with her baby daughter.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe worked for the charity arm of the Thomson Reuters news organisation and has been accused in Iranian state media of working in concert with her current and former employers, the BBC, to agitate against the state.
Her biographical page at the Thomson Reuters Foundation describes her as a programme director and she has penned articles about helping to improve journalism standards in the Turks and Caicos, and in Morocco.
Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, was in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he had been watching a play about his wife’s plight when he learned of her return to prison.
He received an early morning message from her on Sunday saying that she “was worried to death as I don’t know what happens tomorrow”.
She added: “The thought of going back really kills me - even before tomorrow comes.”
She is one of up to 30 dual nationals held in Iran amid geopolitical tensions over the collapse of the Obama-era nuclear deal and a continuing internal feud between competing factions of the regime.
Her family had believed that the stumbling block that had prevented her release from prison was the British failure to pay a four-decade bill of some £390 million over an arms deal to Iran that was aborted after the 1979 revolution. A European trade court had ordered the UK to repay the money.