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Daughter of jailed British-Iranian woman returns to UK

Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been reunited with her father.

Richard Ratcliffe with his five-year-old daughter Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Handout/PA)
Richard Ratcliffe with his five-year-old daughter Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Handout/PA)

By Dominica Sanda, PA

The five-year-old daughter of a British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran has returned home to the UK after more than three years living in the Middle East.

Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been living with her grandparents in Tehran since her mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested.

She was reunited with her father, Richard Ratcliffe, on Thursday night after three and a half years apart.

“Gabriella came back to us late at night, a bit uncertain seeing those she only remembered from the phone,” Mr Ratcliffe said in a statement on Friday.

“It has been a long journey to have her home, with bumps right until the end.”

The five-year-old’s parents made the painful decision to bring her back from Iran so she can start school.

“It was a hard goodbye for Nazanin and all her family. But let us hope this homecoming unlocks another,” Mr Ratcliffe said.

While in Iran, Gabriella visited her mother in the notorious Evin Prison when the authorities would allow her to do so.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 and sentenced to five years in jail after being accused of spying, which she vehemently denies.

Labour’s Tulip Siddiq said Gabriella’s parents have made a decision that “no family” should have to make.

“It is heart-warming to see Gabriella reunited with her father after 1,300 days in Iran, but heart-breaking that she is separated from her mother Nazanin,” Ms Siddiq said.

“Nazanin is at breaking point, and today is yet another reminder that she has been failed at the very highest levels of government.”

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter (Free Nazanin Campaign/PA)

Ms Siddiq urged the UK Government to do “everything it possibly can” to bring Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe home after the Australian government secured the release of dual British-Australian citizen Jolie King and her Australian boyfriend Mark Firkin.

The couple returned to Australia in early October, some three months after being arrested in Iran.

The couple, who had been blogging and vlogging on their extended journey across Asia, were arrested on spying charges after flying a drone near a military base, Iranian officials confirmed.

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Siddiq previously said she was concerned about Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s physical and mental health.

“I want the Prime Minister and ministers of his Government to be able to look in the mirror in years to come and say they did everything possible to ensure my constituent did not die in prison in Iran and they brought her back home,” she said.

Foreign Office minister Andrew Murrison previously said the UK will continue to raise the case at the highest level with Iran and will “lobby hard” to gain access to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

He added Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has dual nationality and Iran dos not accept she also has British nationality – which is why the case is different to that of Ms King’s.

PA

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