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Still a chance Nazanin will be home for Christmas, says husband of jailed Briton

Richard Ratcliffe, from Hampstead, has not lost hope of having his wife and daughter back in the UK by December 25.

The husband of jailed British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe believes there is “still a chance” she may be released from an Iranian prison in time for a dream Christmas together.

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife, who was arrested in 2016 during a holiday visit to show their daughter Gabriella to her parents, imagines her homecoming clearly.

Mr Ratcliffe, from Hampstead, north-west London, has not lost hope of having his wife and daughter back in the UK by December 25, and said he plans for the three of them to go and buy a tree on Christmas Eve.

Richard Ratcliffe holds his phone with a drawing by their daughter Gabriella (John Stillwell/PA)

“It feels like there’s still a chance. It certainly feels it’s important for me to say that to Nazanin, to keep that hope alive,” he told the Press Association.

“There’s not much hint of Christmas around the house just yet. It’s all on hold.

“I’ve seen where we’re going to buy the Christmas tree and I’ve got the box of decorations in the back of the wardrobe.”

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

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said he had “worthwhile” discussions concerning Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other British-Iranian dual nationals being held in Iran when he visited the country earlier this month.

While he said he did not want to raise false hopes, he believed his messages had been received and understood by Iranian officials.

The “best case scenario” would be if Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who turns 39 on Boxing Day, and Gabriella, now three and a half, fly home towards the end of this week, Mr Ratcliffe said.

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

“What she wants to do is just sit down and have a cup of tea and just be at home and rediscover her flat. And it’s that idea of being normal again.

“What we’ll do is we’ll go down to the park just at the end and they’re selling Christmas trees, and we’ll bring the Christmas tree back.

“On Christmas Eve, at the last minute, we’ll decorate the tree, which I’m sure Gabriella will thoroughly enjoy,” he said.

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife imagines the moment the family are reunited (John Stillwell/PA)

Mr Ratcliffe, 42, said his wife imagines the moment the family are reunited, and thinks about whether Gabriella, who is being looked after by her grandmother in Iran, will run to her father when she sees him.

“Nazanin really keeps alive the outside, the future, the happiness … visualising what it was like on the last moment we saw each other, visualising what it will be like on the first moment we see each other again,” he said.

Mr Ratcliffe said he does not think about it in the same way, saying: “Emotionally I’m built in a different way. I want to keep battling and when it’s time to enjoy that, then I’ll enjoy that.

“It’s something about hope, not making that hope so real that then the disappointment is as well.”

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

He added: “It’s kind of like a dream I suppose, almost in terms of describing it, and part of me with campaigning is not to really visualise it too clearly, just in case it doesn’t happen.”

Speaking of the relief he hopes is ahead of him, he said: “Knowing that that battle is over. Of course there’ll be others to come in terms of the recovering, the recuperation and everything else.

“But the chance to celebrate together, and yes, it’s just the being together, and in some ways for me it’s the quietness of being together that is the thing I look forward to.”

Mr Ratcliffe said nothing was certain, and reflecting on the possibility of another Christmas without Nazanin and Gabriella, he said there would be a feeling of loss but he would pick himself up and continue campaigning.

“I can’t rest yet,” he said.

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