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husband and daughter of Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, detained in Iran for five years, testify

“If you want to take off your shoes, Nazanin is particularly keen on it.” Richard Ratcliffe pronounces this sentence without the slightest second degree. When entering his apartment in the district of Hampstead, north London, it is therefore necessary to take off his shoes because his wife, detained in Iran for five years, requires it.

Despite his physical absence Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe lives there. Her husband and six-year-old daughter Gabriella think about her, talk about her constantly. The face of this smiling 42-year-old brunette in many photos on the living room shelves. And then, since the beginning of March, she kind of came back, a bit. “We speak by videoconference”, explique Richard Ratcliffe.

The first few times, it was three or four hour non-stop discussions, we had time to catch up. Every detail was important. Like this wall that I painted blue and that she doesn’t like at all. Gabriella shows him her drawings, tells him about her days in class. “

Richard Ratcliffe

to franceinfo

They now call each other twice a day. Usually a call in the morning before leaving for school. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe loves to see his little girl getting ready, brushing her hair. Another call in the evening, they have dinner together. The computer is on the table. The mother of the family is not quite there but more completely absent. “From that point of view, we are a family, more than we were two or three years ago”, blows the husband.

During his trial in September 2016, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the news agency of the same name, was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring against the regime. The Revolutionary Guards claim that she is leading a “hostile network, linked abroad “. No proof will be produced.

“When it falls on him, at first, you try to prove his innocence, Richard Ratcliffe said today. You alert everyone. You scream that it’s a mistake… “Sone explanation is lost in a sad smile in the face of what he now sees as naivety. The accountant by profession then becomes an activist. He defends his wife’s cause with politicians and in the media. Supported by NGOs, he becomes an expert in the case and ends up realizing that this arrest is beyond them. He discovers the “hostage diplomacy”.

If Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held in Iran, it is because of a contract she had never heard of, which was signed even before she was born. A British debt to Iran incurred in the 1970s that has not been paid, a dispute worth several million pounds. The couple have acquired this certainty by gathering information on their own. She, from the mouth of an Iranian judge, he, from elected officials and experts. Its detention turns it into a bargaining chip, a means of pressure.

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The mother completed his sentence under house arrest on March 7 but his passport was confiscated. He is therefore prohibited from leaving Iran. A second lawsuit was brought against her for “propaganda against the system for having participated in a rally outside the Iranian embassy in London in 2009”, according to her lawyer. She appeared on March 14 in a court in Tehran and is awaiting notification of her judgment, which has been reserved.

In the midst of this tangle, these young parents try to raise Gabriella. Now six years old, the child lived in Iran until 2019 with her maternal grandparents. She could see her mother briefly, rarely. Two years ago she was allowed to join her father in London. Richard Ratcliffe had to learn this life together, find his place, raise his daughter while fighting for his wife.

“I’ve been a really bad accountant lately. Fortunately, I have an extremely understanding boss.”

Richard Ratcliffe

to franceinfo

In the entrance of the apartment, next to the shoes that should be removed, is parked a small pink bicycle. The open door to Gabriella’s bedroom shows that she is a spoiled child: toys, stuffed animals … for a little girl’s life almost like any other. Even if, regularly, the reality of this absent mother catches up with her. “Nazanin’s prison term ended on March 7, she had started a countdown there, raconte Richard Ratcliffe. So Gabriella made a big calendar, which she designed herself. The three of us got caught up in the game. We were telling each other what we were going to do once mum got home: ‘We’ll go swimming in the pool’, ‘we’ll go to the toy store’ etc. And then, we realized that finally, on March 7, she would not be released. At her age, Gabriella has already had to deal with a lot of good news that ultimately never happened. “

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Source site www.francetvinfo.fr

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