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Husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe speaks out over her treatment

Richard Ratcliffe has called for a meeting with the Iranian foreign minister.

The husband of imprisoned Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was hoping to speak to her on Sunday, nearly a week after one of their “toughest conversations” when she was forced back into an Iranian jail.

Richard Ratcliffe expressed concern about how “low” the mother of one seemed after a three-day furlough from prison.

Revealing her anguish at being put back behind bars, Mr Ratcliffe said the family would not ask for any more such temporary releases due to the strain it had put on his wife.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to five years imprisonment for spying in 2016, but maintains her innocence, saying she was on holiday to introduce her daughter to her family in Iran.

The disclosure of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s jail torment came as Middle East minister Alistair Burt held talks with Iranian deputy foreign affairs minister Abbas Araghchi in Tehran about the situation.

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabriella during her temporary release from prison in Iran (handout/PA)

Mr Ratcliffe told the Press Association on Saturday: “Nazanin phoned her family in Iran today and they said she was better, but she sounded quite low still.

“I’m hoping to speak to her tomorrow.

“The family met with minister Burt. I think he was quite emotional, but didn’t reveal what he said to the deputy foreign minister.”

In an open letter to Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif, Mr Ratcliffe said his wife was deeply upset at being forced back to prison after a three-day release, which he called a “cruel game”.

He said: “Nazanin called me on Tuesday – one of our toughest conversations.

“She wished she had never been released. She said she felt like one of the radical Islamists’ captives – as though she had been paraded on the balcony then hidden back away.

“After that call, Nazanin collapsed, the result of two panic attacks. She still has numbness in her legs. She was taken by ambulance to the Evin hospital.”

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has promised to heighten efforts aimed at securing the British-Iranian’s release after she passed out during a panic attack and had to be taken to a prison clinic earlier this week.

Mr Ratcliffe said an Iranian official called his wife’s father and warned him to ensure UK diplomats did not contact her while she was out of jail.

“As Nazanin was being released, her interrogator called her father to privately warn him that the British Embassy should not visit her, if she wanted to stay safe.

“Each day he called to note they were monitoring her movements, and check her father was following her to make sure she did not suffer an accident on the street. Those calls cast a shadow over her release, as they were meant to.”

Mr Ratcliffe called on Mr Zarif to meet him next week at a UN summit in New York to discuss his wife’s case.

Mr Burt is using his visit to discuss the cases of British dual-nationals detained in Iran as well as holding talks on the Iran nuclear deal and the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Mr Burt said: “I will also use the opportunity of my visit to push for the resolution we all want to see in the cases of the British dual-nationals detained in Iran.”

Mr Burt has said the talks marked a “crucial moment in Iran’s relationship with the UK” around the nuclear deal.

His visit is the first by a UK minister to Tehran since the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May.

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