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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe touches down in UK and reunites with family

The British-Iranian charity worker has finally seen her husband and daughter again nearly six years of being detained in Iran

By Hollie Geraghty

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe holds her daughter's face as she arrives back in the UK
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is finally reunited with her family (Picture: 10 Downing Street).

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe arrived back in the UK in the early hours of this morning (March 17), reuniting with her husband Richard Ratcliffe and her daughter Gabriella.

The British-Iranian charity worker was arrested in Iran whilst visiting family in 2016, accused of plotting to overthrow the government, which she denied. She had been under house arrest in the country since she was released from prison in March 2020.

Video footage shows Zaghari-Ratcliffe breaking into tears as she hugged her family, seeing them again for the first time in six years.

She had previously served five years in prison and was subsequently held under house arrest at the home of her parents in Tehran.

Seven-year-old Gabriella was heard asking “is that mummy?”, as the aid worker walked down the plane stairs. She was just 22-months-old when her mother was arrested.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe hugged and kissed her daughter, asking “do I smell nice?” before holding her hands.

She left the country with another dual national citizen Anoosheh Ashoori, 67, who was accused of “spying for Israel” and was detained for five years after being arrested in 2017.

Yesterday, Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, tweeted a photo of Zaghari-Ratcliffe on the plane, writing: “It’s been 6 long years – and I can’t believe I can FINALLY share this photo. Nazanin is now in the air flying away from 6 years of hell in Iran. My heart goes out to Gabriella and Richard, as her long journey back home to them gets closer by the minute.”

Richard Ratcliffe said he looked forward to the “beginning of a new life” as his wife was finally returning home.

He added that he and his daughter were “deeply grateful” for his wife’s release, and that they were looking forward to again being a “normal family”.

“We can’t take back the time that’s gone,” he said. “But we live in the future not the past. We’ll take it one day at a time.”

Last year, Richard Ratcliffe brought a renewed focus to his wife’s plight, staging a 21-day hunger strike outside the Foreign Office.

He urged the government to settle a £400m debt to Iran that had been linked to their detention of British nationals.

Yesterday, foreign secretary Liz Truss confirmed that the UK government had settled its debt “in parallel” with the release of detainees.