Brit whose wife is brutally imprisoned in Iran, will spend first Christmas away from her

Richard Ratcliffe’s wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is behind bars in Iran for allegedly plotting to topple the government in Tehran.

The mother, from Hampstead, north west London, was originally arrested at Tehran Airport on April 3 along with her then 22-month-old daughter Gabriella as she went to visit her parents.

She was sentenced to five years in prison in September following a conviction on unspecified “national security-related” offences.

However Mr Ratcliffe claims his wife is merely being used as a “bargaining chip”, saying that his family has been “caught up” in a disagreement between the two countries.

One reason for the alleged international dispute is that Mr Ratcliffe claims the UK owes about £500million to Iran for a tank deal agreed four decades ago.

His daughter Gabriella has also been forced to stay in Iran, having been stripped of her passport.

She is staying with her grandparents, who are native to Iran.

Since meeting Nazanin, Mr Ratcliffe has never spent a Christmas away from her.

And the festive period became even more special for the couple after she gave birth to Gabriella – but now Mr Ratcliffe is set to face Christmas away from them for the first time.

Speaking to The Sun Online, he said: “I’m not sure there will even be a family visit allowed.”
The timing of the couple being apart over the festive period is even more difficult given that Nazanin’s birthday is on Boxing Day, leaving the worried husband fearing for her state of mind.

“Nazanin was allowed a brief call to me on Friday,” he said.

“She remains very down. She asked if I thought she would be home by Christmas – I had always told her that’s what I was working towards.

“I had to say that I wasn’t sure.”

Mr Ratcliffe has taken heart from a recent trip the British ambassador to Iran made to see Gabriella, which he told his wife about when they recently spoke.
“It was important for me that she feel that the government cares,” he added.

“A key part of the Revolutionary Guards’ tactics are to keep her vulnerable and isolated, thinking that no one cares about her. “It is why a public stand from the government matters, I think.”

Since his wife’s imprisonment, Mr Ratcliffe has been touched by the incredible support shown to him from the public.

A stunning 850,000 have signed a petition entitled Free Nazanin Ratcliffe on Change.org.

He said: “It has been overwhelming for all of us.

“The fact that Hampstead Mums have been organising all these events recently, the fact that so many Amnesty groups have written her letters – over 26,000 so far – the fact that we get so many lovely comments on the petition, that so many people share and sign.

Source: / thesun /

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