Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's Daughter Gabriella In Bittersweet UK Reunion With Dad After 3 Years Of Separation

Richard Ratcliffe said: "Now she is peacefully sleeping next to me. And I am just watching."

The five-year-old daughter of British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has returned to the UK, meeting her father Richard again for the first time in more than three years.

Gabriella has been living with her grandparents in Tehran and visiting her mother in the notorious Evin Prison since her mother was arrested on spying charges more than three years ago.

But Nazanin and her husband Richard Ratcliffe decided to bring her back home to the UK so she can start school, PA Media reports.

Tulip Siddiq MP/PA

Ratcliffe said: “Gabriella came back to us late at night, a bit uncertain seeing those she only remembered from the phone. Now she is peacefully sleeping next to me. And I am just watching.

“It has been a long journey to have her home, with bumps right until the end – and I am grateful to all those at the British Embassy and Iranian MFA who helped smooth all those last blockages.

“Of course the job is not yet done until Nazanin is home. It was a hard goodbye for Nazanin and all her family. But let us hope this homecoming unlocks another.”

Speaking to HuffPost UK last week, Richard had said he was “daunted” at the prospect of seeing his daughter in person again.

He added: “For a long time I’ve been a campaigning dad and a campaigning husband. I’m pretty rusty as a parent.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter
Free Nazanin Campaign/PA

Labour’s Tulip Siddiq said Gabriella’s parents have made a decision that “no family” should have to make.

“It is heart-warming to see Gabriella reunited with her father after 1,300 days in Iran, but heart-breaking that she is separated from her mother Nazanin,” Siddiq said.

“Nazanin is at breaking point, and today is yet another reminder that she has been failed at the very highest levels of government.”

Siddiq called on Iran to end its “hostage diplomacy” and release Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

She also highlighted the recent case of the Australian government securing the release of dual British-Australian citizen Jolie King and her Australian boyfriend Mark Firkin.

The couple returned to Australia in early October, some three months after being arrested in Iran.

The couple, who had been blogging and vlogging on their extended journey across Asia, were arrested on spying charges after flying a drone near a military base, Iranian officials confirmed.

Foreign Office minister Andrew Murrison previously said the UK will continue to raise the case at the highest level with Iran and will “lobby hard” to gain access to Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

He added Zaghari-Ratcliffe has dual nationality and Iran does not accept she also has British nationality – which is why the case is different to that of King’s.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 and sentenced to five years in jail after being accused of spying, which she vehemently denies.

Her fight for freedom has seen her endure hunger strikes and solitary confinement, amid a major diplomatic row.

Her family had wanted to return Gabriella to the UK to start the school year in September, but this was postponed after Zaghari-Ratcliffe was taken to a psychiatric hospital.

She was returned to prison after a week, but not permitted phone calls with her husband.