January 15, 2022
The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says she is feeling more hopeful after the release of a British Council worker from an Iranian jail.
Aras Amiri was recently released from prison as world powers, including the UK, tried to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in Vienna, Austria.
As Ms Amiri spends her first few days back in Britain, Richard Ratcliffe said his wife was feeling more hopeful but that negotiations with Iran were like sailing near an iceberg.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was first detained by Iran more than five years on charges of plotting to overthrow the regime.
After completing her sentence last year, she was released only for authorities to present new charges of “spreading propaganda against the regime”.
“She got a phone call from Liz Truss on her birthday on Boxing Day [December 26] which was nice for her. Liz said: ‘You are a priority, we are working on things’,” Mr Ratcliffe said.
“Nazanin is probably a bit angry about still being stuck there, but she is more positive than I am. I fundamentally am quite bleak at this point. She sees Aras’s release as good news at face value and her coming out as a good thing.
“She was really flat before Christmas. But I can’t quite read this game of cat and mouse. There are reasons to be hopeful. I think we need to campaign for a while to come but Nazanin is trying not to think about that.”
He said the release of Ms Amiri was a good sign but his wife’s fate remained uncertain.
“It is like looking at icebergs — you can see stuff moving, but you never know if you will bump into something under the waterline or you’ll get a free pass,” he said.
“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 else get out who was arrested after you, you are wondering why it isn’t you.”
Ms Amiri, an Iranian employee of the British Council detained for more than three years in Iran and sentenced to a decade in prison, has returned to the UK after winning an appeal to Iran’s Supreme Court, the organisation said on Wednesday.
She had been arrested during a trip to visit family in Tehran.
Another British-Iranian dual citizen, Anoosheh Ashoori, is also still imprisoned in Iran. She was arrested in 2017 and sentenced to a decade in prison.