Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori Reunited with Families After Years Captive in Iran

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori
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BBC- Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori have been reunited with their families in the UK after years of detention in Iran.

The British-Iranian nationals were met by their loved ones at RAF Brize Norton in the early hours of Thursday.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s seven-year-old daughter Gabriella rushed to hug her mother, who she had not seen in years.

Mr Ashoori’s daughter Elika spoke of her happiness at seeing her father, sharing a video of the pair’s arrival.

Gabriella was heard asking “is that mummy?” before her mother walked down the plane’s stairs at the airport in Oxfordshire.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, and Mr Ashoori, 67, finally left Tehran on Wednesday after their release was secured following months of negotiations.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the pair’s departure from Iran had been uncertain until the last minute, but they were in good spirits.

MP Tulip Siddiq said Gabriella had asked her if her father Richard was “pulling her leg” about her mother coming home.

“My heart just broke,” she said, adding that when she told her she was, Gabriella started playing the piano and singing.

Richard Ratcliffe’s sister Rebecca said “a little girl has finally got her mummy and daddy back” alongside a picture of the family.

She told the BBC the two families had gone to a safe house and “Gabriella slept in between Richard and Nazanin for the first time in six years, so a very special moment”.

She said she had had a message from her brother on Thursday morning and described him as “very buoyant”.

He had said it was “lovely to be with his family again”, she added.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe looks into daughter Gabriella's eyes while Richard Ratcliffe and Liz Truss stand near by
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe looks at her daughter Gabriella, 7, alongside her husband Richard Ratcliffe and Liz Truss

It marked the end of an ordeal that saw Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe detained for six years after being accused in 2016 of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.

She was sentenced to a further year in prison in April last year and a one-year travel ban on charges of propaganda against the government.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe alongside Anoosheh AshooriImage source, Reuters,
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori arrive back at RAF Brize Norton

Mr Ashoori, a retired civil engineer, was detained in 2017 on spying charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Both have consistently and vigorously denied the allegations.

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Their release came after the UK settled a debt to Iran of almost £400m dating from the 1970s, when Iran ordered British tanks and armoured vehicles. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, the UK cancelled the order and Iran demanded its money back for undelivered vehicles.

On Wednesday, Ms Truss called this debt “legitimate” – adding that it and the detainees were “parallel issues in our bilateral relationship [with Iran]”.

She said the money would be paid in compliance with sanctions on Iran, and ring-fenced for humanitarian purposes.

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