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What is happening in Iran with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe?

What is happening in Iran with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe?

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is today free for the first time in five years, however, it unclear whether the British citizen will be allowed to return to the United Kingdom, with another trial due to take place next week.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has had her ankle tag removed, however, her husband, Richard Radcliffe, has been told that a new court case will be held against her next Sunday (14th March). Tulip Saddiq, the Labour MP for the constituency in which Zaghari-Ratciffe's family live, has said that her passport has not been returned to her.

The United Kingdom's foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, has welcomed her release, but has said that she should be allowed to return to the UK.

"She must be released permanently so she can return to her family in the UK. We will continue to do everything we can to achieve this".

"We have relayed to the Iranian authorities in the strongest possible terms that her continued confinement is unnaceptable".

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has dual British and Iranian citizenship, and has spent the last five years in jail in Iran. She was detained in 2016 whilst taking her now 6-year-old daughter Gabriella to celebrate the country's new year and to visit her parents.

Whilst in the country, she was detained by Iranian authorities for leading a "foreign-linked hostile network" to topple the government in Tehran, despite no evidence being produced and no official charges made public.

Before her arrest, she worked as a project manager for the charity Thomson Reuters Foundation, which has repeatedly emphasised that her trip to Iran was a holiday. There is a belief that her detainment is part of an attempt by the Iranian government to use dual national citizens to exert political pressure abroad.

Her five-year-sentence was handed down on 6 September 2016, one day after the UK appointed an ambassador to Iran for the first time since 2011, with her husband, stating that the timing was proof his wife is being held as a political bargaining chip.

It has been claimed Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held in order to force the UK into settling a multi-million-pound dispute with Iran, with the country having previously used detainment as a way of exerting pressure.

Successive British governments have repeatedly raised the issue with the Iranian government, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during a visit to Iran in 2019. He had previously - as foreign secretary - mistakenly said that she was training journalists whilst in Iran during a parliamentary session, his words were used by the Iranian government as evidence to continue her detainment. 

Her daughter Gabriella was returned to the United Kingdom in 2019, to start school, where Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin's husband, had been long campaigning for her return. In 2020, Nazanin was allowed to leave prison due to Coronavirus, staying at her parent's house, where she was fitted with an ankle tag.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe mostly speaks publicly through her husband, with him exerting pressure on the United Kingdom's government to do more for her. He stated in January 2019 that she had gone on a three-day hunger strike, with her undertaking a second, 15-day, strike later that same year. He has taken similar action in the UK to demand more support is given to her.

The news of her release will cause mixed emotions, with many hoping that it is the beginning of the end of her ordeal, however, with new charges set to go to court next week, there is a fear that her release may only be a temporary one.