Nazanin release hopes are raised

Saturday 22nd January 2022 2:30 pm

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HOPES have been raised that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe could soon be released from her nightmare in Iran.

One of the women Nazanin (pictured) shared a cell with, British Council employee Aras Amiri, has been set free after spending three years in jail in Iran after being accused of spying.

The British Council announced Aras had successfully appealed her case at the Supreme Court and has since returned to the UK.

Aras was an artistic affairs officer in Iran, but was arrested in Tehran in 2018 while visiting family.

The British Council had denied the spying allegations, commenting: “We are very proud of her work in our London office as an arts programme officer supporting a greater understanding and appreciation of Iranian culture in the UK.”

Nazanin’s husband Richard Ratcliffe, who lived in Farnham, told The Independent that news of Amiri’s release had given his wife hope.

“Nazanin is probably a bit angry about still being stuck there, but she is more positive than I am,” he said.

“I fundamentally am quite bleak at this point. She sees Aras’ release as good news at face value and her coming out as a good thing.

“For Nazanin, it is a bit bittersweet. Whenever anyone gets out, it is a reminder she is still there.

“Of course there isn’t a queue in hostage cases, but whenever you see someone get out who was arrested after you, you are wondering why it isn’t you.”

Richard said his wife had received a phone call from foreign secretary Liz Truss on Boxing Day, which was her birthday.

“It was nice for her. Liz told her she was a priority and that she was working on things,” said Richard.

He said the Foreign Office was still “quite guarded” with him – an indication the situation remained “sensitive.”

Richard went on hunger strike in London before Christmas to campaign for his wife.

South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt, who has also campaigned for Nazanin’s release, said: “I have been in touch with Nazanin on and off over the past few months.

“She is incredibly strong and resilient and kindly asked after my mother, who is not well.

“Personally, I think it is wonderful Aras has been released but like Richard am worried it is taking so long to get Nazanin home.

“We have agreed we owe the debt to Iran, so why not settle it?”

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