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Husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe hopes for Boxing Day birthday release

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe turns 39 on December 26.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband is hopeful his wife will be released from an Iranian prison in time for her Boxing Day birthday.

Richard Ratcliffe said he is waiting by the phone to be told the British-Iranian mother can return home.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme, he said: “She’s still in prison today, so best case is tomorrow.

“It’s her birthday on Boxing Day so we were sort of hoping she’d be out for then.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who turns 39 on December 26, is serving a five-year sentence over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Tehran government.

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A photo of Richard Ratcliffe and his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (John Stillwell/PA)

She was arrested in 2016 while on holiday with her daughter.

On Thursday Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s sister-in-law Rebecca Jones said her lawyer had discovered that on a judiciary database, her case had been marked eligible for early release.

On Sunday Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency reported that the country’s judiciary spokesman said that if she did not face new charges, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe could be released from prison next month, after completing a third of her sentence.

Mr Ratcliffe said on Christmas Eve that there was no sign of a new court case and that he was “sitting by the phone hoping”.

He added that he would light candles on a birthday cake for his wife, and call their three-year-old daughter Gabriella – who is being looked after by her grandparents in Iran – as she likes watching them being blown out.

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