Who is Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the detainee released by Iran?

Her ordeal began in 2016 when she was detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard

A photo of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe outside the UK's Foreign Office in London on October 26. EPA
Powered by automated translation

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the mother and wife whose imprisonment in Iran has made her a cause célèbre, is finally heading home to Britain.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker, with joint Iranian and British nationality, was arrested in Tehran after visiting the country so her parents could meet her daughter, Gabriella.

She was a project manager for Thomson Reuters Foundation, the London-based charitable arm of the news organisation.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ordeal began in 2016 when she was detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Authorities accused her of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government, which she repeatedly denied. She was jailed and spent the subsequent years either in prison or under house arrest.

Gabriella, now six, lived with her grandparents for three years while her mother was detained, before returning to London to live with her father in October 2019.

She has since started primary school and also taken part in some of the campaigns calling for her mother’s release.

Redress, the anti-torture charity that has been working with the family, confirmed she has been allowed to leave Iran and planned to return to her family in London.

Who is Richard Ratcliffe?

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband has staged a high-profile campaign to keep her plight in the public eye.

Last November, he went on hunger strike for three weeks after Iranian authorities rejected an appeal against her sentence.

Mr Ratcliffe, an accountant, lives with his daughter in Hampstead, north London.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has been able to secure Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release but her husband has also previously blamed a ministerial gaffe for her continued detention.

As foreign secretary, Mr Johnson wrongly referred to Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe as a journalist rather than a charity worker.

What else is in play?

According to her family, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was told by Iranian authorities she was being detained because of the UK's failure to pay an outstanding £400 million debt to Iran.

Asked if he is in any doubt that the UK government thinks the country should pay the debt owed to Iran, Mr Ratcliffe was unequivocal.

“The prime minister, back in the day when he was foreign secretary, promised he would pay it," he said.

He also accused Iran of holding her as a bargaining chip.

Updated: June 20, 2023, 9:05 AM