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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Says She Shouldn't Have Been Imprisoned For Six Years But Will Not “Hold A Grudge”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Says She Shouldn't Have Been Imprisoned For Six Years But Will Not “Hold A Grudge”

(Alamy)

4 min read

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe expressed frustration that multiple foreign secretaries had failed to secure her release from an Iranian prison over the course of six years, but insisted she did not want to “hold onto a grudge".

Speaking during a press conference to mark her return, her husband Richard Ratcliffe said he was “grateful” to foreign secretary Liz Truss for securing his wife’s release.

But Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was speaking publicly for the first time since being released from prison in Iran after six years, said she did not agree with his remarks. 

"I have seen five foreign secretaries change over the course of six years. That is unprecedented given the politics of the UK," she explained 

"I love you, Richard. I respect you. But I was told many, many times that 'we're going to get you home'. That never happened. 

“There was a time that I felt like, you know what, I'm not going to trust you because I've been told many, many times that I'm going to be taken home, but that never happened. 

“How many foreign secretaries does it take for someone to come out? Five? It should have been one."

She added that she felt as though she was “holding this black hole in my heart” during her detention, but said she now wanted to leave those feelings “on the plane”. 

“I'm not going to live the rest of my life with a grudge over the past six years,” Zaghari-Ratcliffe continued.

“It took very, very long and I was the lucky one who got to be recognised internationally in the campaign.

“But there are so many other people in prison that you don't know their names but they have been in prison longer years than I have been.”

"Every person has the right to be free and freedom is something that has to be given to people. I think the world should unite together to make sure there is no-one held either hostage or in prison for something they haven't done."

Asked by PoliticsHome why he believed Truss had succeeded where others had failed, Ratcliffe said other foreign secretaries had been “personally invested” in Nazanin’s case and had “tried hard” to free her. 

“I’m really grateful to the current foreign secretary that she got it over the line,” he said.

He added that he was “feeling a little bit guilty about giving [Truss] such a hard time” shortly after she took over the job when he “camped on her door” during his hunger strike.

The press conference was also attended by Roxanne Tehbaz, whose father Morad remains in detention in Iran on spying charges. 

She said that her father was being returned to prison, despite reports he had been released on furlough as part of the same deal that secured Nazanin’s release. 

“We were advised that he would be on an indefinite furlough which turned out not to be the case and we also were advised that my mum's travel ban would have been lifted as well, which is also still not the case,” she told reporters.

“I'm not a politician so I can't advise anyone in the Government what they can offer and negotiate. But we just urge them to bring them back home. They've been there a very long time.”

Ratcliffe said he had "absolute hope" that the foreign secretary would also succeed in bringing other dual nationals home.

“We should be grateful to her for having done it," he said.

"Let us hope it becomes a pillar of her foreign policy going forwards that she keeps Brits safe and she makes sure whether it’s in Ukraine, or Afghanistan, or other places where people are vulnerable, that it’s something UK does: it looks after people”.

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