Richard Ratcliffe: Global crisis may make politicians ‘recalibrate’

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Richard Ratcliffe has said the coronavirus pandemic could provide an opportunity for politicians around the world to “focus on what’s important” after it led to the temporary release of his wife.

British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held in Iran since 2016 over allegations of plotting to overthrow the Tehran government, which she denies.

But she was yesterday granted two weeks release from prison after cases of Covid-19 continued to climb in the country.

She has to wear a prison tag and can only go within 300 metres of her parents home.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe said she was "happy to be out, even with the ankle tag".

In a statement, she added: “Being out is so much better than being in - if you knew what hell this place is. It is mental.

“Let us hope it will be the beginning of coming home."

Mr Ratcliffe, who has been campaigning for her return to the UK since her detainment, today told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer the development was “a big deal”.

He said: “I think there is certainly hope on our part that it is the beginning of a journey but obviously fears that it's a new game of chess.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is one of an estimated 85,000 prisoners in Iran on temporary leave in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, with Western nations pushing for the release of dual nationals.

Her husband said he hoped the pandemic could lead to improved relations.

He said: “I think there does need to be a series of confidence building measures to improve the relationship between the UK and Iran because we've become a sort of chess piece in the middle of that and things need to lighten there.

“Of course coronavirus is a global crisis so it is causing politicians in all sorts of countries to recalibrate and rethink and just focus on what's important.”

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