By Holly Wiles
When Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe travelled to Iran to see family members in 2016 with her young daughter, she was detained at border control and later imprisoned. Zaghari-Ratcliffe has a British-Iranian Dual Citizenship and was detained under charges of espionage for the British government. She was later charged in September of 2016 and found guilty of ‘plotting to topple the Iranian government’, these charges however were false, and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent the last six years in an Iranian prison for a crime she did not commit.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was one of three people charged with these crimes in the same year. These charges were also filed against Anoosheh Ashoori, a British-Iranian businessman, and Morad Tahbaz. Ashoori was released from prison in March 2022 alongside Nazanin, however he third man Morad Tahbaz is currently still in prison.
During the years of 2016 and 2022, whilst the three were in prison, the British Government has seen five Foreign Secretaries who have “dealt” with the case, one of whom was current Prime Minister – Boris Johnson. During his time as Foreign Secretary Johnson hindered any chance Nazanin had of leaving prison by promising the Iranian government to pay back a 400-million-pound debt that dates to the 1970’s. The Conservative Government however did not deliver on this promise, and Nazanin was subsequently detained, and her sentence extended. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, was due to leave prison in 2021, yet another year was added to Zaghari Ratcliffe’s sentence when she was further charged and found guilty of ‘propaganda against the Iranian government.’ Nazanin tried to overturn this sentence but lost an appeal soon after.
In March 2022 however, following Richard Ratcliffe’s 21-day hunger strike outside Parliament’s Foreign Office, she was released alongside Anoosh Ashoori. They were both able to return home to their families. Although this is joyous news for Ratcliffe and Ashoori, and their families, their freedom has come after six years in prison and an utter plague of uncertainty surrounding their futures. It should not have taken five Foreign Secretaries and six years to free two people, who were a result of the Tory government’s inability to govern the United Kingdom and secure the safe return of a mother and a father who have missed six years of theirs and their family lives.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Davies via Unsplash