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NEWS / United Kingdom

Husband of Briton jailed in Iran for spying wants talks

Jailed charity worker's spouse pushes for meeting with an Iranian diplomat who is in London for a visit.

by Tamila Varshalomidze

The husband of the British-Iranian woman arrested in Iran has left letters on the doorstep of the Iranian embassy in London in a bid to secure a meeting with a visiting Iranian official.

Richard Ratcliffe told Al Jazeera on Wednesday he was pinning his hopes for an end to his family's ordeal on a meeting with Abbas Araghchi, deputy for legal and international affairs in Iran's foreign ministry, who was in London for an official visit.

Ratcliffe has not seen his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and their baby daughter, Gabriella, since they went for a holiday to Iran almost two years ago.

"If we manage to get this meeting, I will obviously be much more hopeful. If we don't get the meeting, I will be keen to know what happened when [Araghchi] met with the British officials," he said.

"I haven't given up hope, but so far there is no evidence that the meeting is going to happen."

Five-year jail term

Nazanin, a charity worker with the Thompson Reuters Foundation, is serving a five-year jail term in Tehran's Evin Prison after being convicted in 2016 for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.

She denies the allegations against her.

According to her husband, she spent the first eight-and-a-half months in solitary confinement. Now she is allowed to receive visitors, and her mother brings Gabriella to see her twice a week. 

"She's just had enough. She is in a very fragile state psychologically," Ratcliffe said.

Supporters deliver letters to the Iranian embassy demanding Nazanin's release [Getty Images]

The last time she spoke to her husband over the phone on Tuesday she said she was having panic attacks and nightmares again.

Ratcliffe said Nazanin was supposed to be granted a temporary release from prison to spend time with her daughter.

But the prosecutor's office offered house arrest in a special accommodation where she would be guarded by security officers instead of staying in her family home with Gabriella.

Also on Wednesday, Ratcliffe said a small group of human rights activists and ordinary citizens held a protest outside the embassy in solidarity with the Ratcliffe family.

"I was very touched and pleased that they have come. Knowing that she is cared for and we are cared for is very important," he said. "I think it is important for [Nazanin] to know that she is not alone."

Follow Al Jazeera's Tamila Varshalomidze on Twitter: @tamila87v


SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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