Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: I should have been freed six years ago

21 March 2022, 12:21 | Updated: 21 March 2022, 16:33

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe appeared at a press conference on Monday.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe appeared at a press conference on Monday. Picture: LBC/Tulip Siddiq/Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Freed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said she should not have been in prison for six years as she spoke publicly for the first time since her return to the UK.

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At a press conference sitting next to her husband Richard, who campaigned tirelessly for her release, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe said she should have been able to come home in 2016, not long after departing for Iran.

She said: "What happened now should have happened six years ago."

However, she refused to be drawn on what her time in jail was like.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe said she felt she could not trust the UK Government after being told several times that they would get her home, with them failing to deliver on promises of freedom.

Referencing comments from her husband who thanked the Government for its efforts moments earlier, she said: "I do not really agree with him on that level."

She went on to say: "I love you Richard, respect whatever you believe, but I was told many, many times that 'Oh we're going to get you home'. That never happened."

The mum added: "How many foreign secretaries does it take for someone to come out? Five."

Read more: 'Is that mummy?' Nazanin's tearful reunion with family after 6 year hell in Iranian jail

She continued to push for justice for others still in Iran too, including Morad Tahbaz.

The "meaning of freedom is never going to be complete" until other dual nationals are released and reunited with their families, she said.

"To begin with Morad, but also the other dual nationals, members of religious groups, or prisoners of conscience who are... I mean, we do realise that if I have been in prison for six years there are so many other people we don't know their names who have been suffering in prison in Iran."

The British-Iranian mother returned to Britain, along with a second dual national, Anoosheh Ashoori on March 17 after having been released the day before.

She said she was "overwhelmed" as she landed back in the UK.

"That moment was precious. I've been waiting for that moment for such a long time," Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe said.

"And I was overwhelmed, specifically to get to know Gabriella and Richard after such a long time.

"It was a very, very emotional moment."

It came after the UK finally agreed to settle a £400 million debt dating back to the 1970s.

However, she said she was sad to have missed out on precious time with her daughter between the ages of two and eight.

It followed her husband thanking everyone for "making us whole again", adding that it is "nice to be retiring" from his campaigning.