| 15.6°C Belfast

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe release extended until clemency decision, says husband

The British-Iranian mother-of-one was freed from Evin prison on March 17 as part of the Iranian response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Close

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Family handout/PA)

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Family handout/PA)

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Family handout/PA)

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release from a Tehran jail has been extended until there is a decision on clemency, according to her husband.

The British-Iranian mother-of-one was freed from Evin prison on March 17 as part of the Iranian response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and her furlough was further extended on Wednesday.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said he was “relieved” by the news and they will “sleep more easily tonight than we did last night”.

He told the PA news agency: “I think this was a more positive step than we were expecting.”

The fact clemency was mentioned again is a good stepRichard Ratcliffe

He added: “To be told the furlough has been extended, there’s no timeline to it, it’s extended until a decision is made on clemency, is definitely a good step.

“The fact clemency was mentioned again is a good step.

“What that means, who knows?”

He described the news as “a real step forwards […] I don’t think it’s guaranteed one way and I don’t think she thinks it’s guaranteed one way but let’s enjoy the moment.”

Mr Ratcliffe said his wife was “relieved, happy, [but] not euphoric” when he spoke to her, and believes some Iranian officials may support her release.

He added: “My reading of it is that there is a dispute in Iran and you can see there are parts of the Iran regime pushing quite strongly for her to be released and parts are blocking that.

“We’ll see who wins that battle.”

With Nazanin’s long-term fate still apparently undecided, the UK Government must step up efforts do everything within its power to ensure her full and unconditional releaseKate Allen, from Amnesty International

Their five-year-old daughter Gabriella also “still has hopes that Nazanin will be back for her birthday” later in the summer, Mr Ratcliffe said.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport while taking her young daughter to see her parents in April 2016.

The mother-of-one was sentenced to five years in prison, accused of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government, which she denies.

She was later afforded diplomatic protection by the UK Government, which argues that she is innocent and that her treatment by Iran failed to meet obligations under international law.

Amnesty International said it is concerned “that the Iranian authorities are still playing games with Nazanin and her family”, and called on the Government to secure her permanent release.

Kate Allen, the charity’s UK director, said: “There are numerous reports of Covid-19 in Iranian jails, with detainees pleading for basic things like soap to help combat the disease.

“With Nazanin’s long-term fate still apparently undecided, the UK Government must step up efforts do everything within its power to ensure her full and unconditional release.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Our position is that Nazanin should not be in prison at all and that she should be allowed to return to the UK to be with her family.”

PA