The husband of imprisoned Briton Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has hailed the “first ripple of freedom” after his wife’s court appearance in Iran was postponed following a visit to the country by Boris Johnson.
Richard Ratcliffe also revealed Nazanin could “see some light” at the end of the tunnel as her spell in one of Iran’s most brutal prisons reaches almost two years.
The charity worker has been held on charges of spying and spreading propaganda that her supporters say are trumped up. She was only in the country on holiday with her daughter visiting her parents.
Ratcliffe released an upbeat statement in the wake of Foreign Secretary Johnson ending a “worthwhile visit” to Iran where he raised Nazanin’s plight during nearly an hour of talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
While no agreement for her release was reached, the Free Nazanin campaign has taken heart from the postponement of a court appearance on Sunday where further charges of espionage could have lengthened her jail sentence from five years to ten. Ratcliffe said:
“Today is one of the good days in the past 20 months.
“This weekend we had our first ripple of freedom, with the postponement of Nazanin’s new court case. Of course who knows what lies ahead, the past 20 months have had plenty of false turns – but my hope is that the ripple in the days ahead might become a full change of tide.
“My hope today is as Nazanin once wrote: freedom feels one day closer, that Christmas dream remains.”
It was feared Nazanin’s parlous situation had been made worse when Johnson last month erroneously suggested to parliament she had been in the country training journalists.
But the campaign on Sunday said Nazanin has noted that in the last days building up to the Foreign Secretary’s visit that the Iran state TV propaganda against her - which Johnson’s comments helped fuel - has “lightened”.
Ratcliffe added: “A month ago I was cursing the Foreign Secretary. It seems a long time. (Perhaps I reserve the right to do it again) But he promised when he met that he would do his best for Nazanin, and to date he has been as good as his word.
“He did get to Iran, he did get there before her court case, and that did make a difference. Of course, one swallow doesn’t make a Christmas – Nazanin is not yet on a plane. But it is good to have at least a swallow in the sky.”
The Free Nazanin campaign also quoted Nazanin saying:
“Is there light at the end of the tunnel? I can see some light today, more than before. Having no court suddenly. It feels like God is protecting me. Can you please continue to pray.
“The court, the imprisonment emerged all of a sudden out of the blue, so I hope it can disappear out of the blue also – if there is enough will.”
The campaign has outlined the fragile state of her health, saying she has been hit by insomnia, severe depression and panic attacks, as well as suicidal thoughts.
Ratcliffe hopes to meet Johnson in the coming days following his return to the UK.