In a powerful first statement after six years in prison, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe added that “the meaning of freedom will never be complete” until other British dual citizens come home from Iran
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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe said today her release “should have happened six years ago” in a scathing attack on the British government.
In her first public statement since freedom, the British-Iranian mother said her ordeal “will always haunt me” and she lost faith in the UK’s foreign ministers to see her home as the years went by.
And in a moving plea, she said that “the meaning of freedom will never be complete” until Morad Tahbaz and other dual citizens are released and reunited with their families.
“I’ve seen five foreign ministers. I’ve been told many times, ‘oh, we’ll take you home,’ that never happened,” she said.
“How many foreign ministers does it take for someone to come home? Five? What happened now should have happened six years ago.”
She also revealed that Iran claimed her release was linked to £400million in debt – a link the British government refused to accept for years.
“They told me, ‘We want something from the British, we won’t let you go until we get it,'” she said.
The UK finally paid off the debt at the moment of Nazanin’s freedom last week.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe said: “I’ve been a pawn in the hands of the two governments for the last six years,” adding: “What has irked me all these years was that my life was connected to something that had nothing to do with me had to do.”
She said the cases of those still stuck in Iran should not be linked to international affairs.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe faced the media at a press conference today for the first time since her release from Iran.
The 43-year-old, who landed back in the UK on Thursday after the UK finally agreed to pay off a £400million debt dating back to the 1970s, was accompanied by her husband Richard.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe declined to criticize Boris Johnson – one of the five foreign secretaries – for falsely saying she was teaching journalists.
When asked if she was angry at the government, she said: “I can’t be happier to be here. But also… that should have happened six years ago. I think that answers your question.
“I’ve always felt like I’m holding this black hole in my heart over the years, but I’ll just leave that black hole in my heart on the plane when the plane takes off.
“I’m not going to live the rest of my life with a grudge.”
She added, “It was cruel what happened to me,” but said she’d only just gotten home, adding, “I think it’s a little bit early to be holding those grudges. But it should have happened six years ago. It took a very, very long time for the politicians to sort that out.”
She also called for the release of other Iranian detainees, saying, “I was the lucky one to be recognized internationally.”
The couple attended a private meeting with the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, along with their local MP, Tulip Siddiq, who had long campaigned for her return.
Ms Siddiq, Labor MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said she had met the British-Iranian charity worker “emotionally” for the first time after six years of campaigning.
She said it was “quite strange” when the pair met in her constituency on Sunday because she had become “so intimately” acquainted with Nazanin’s life, having spoken to her as she was going through her ordeal.
“She came to West Hampstead and we hugged forever and we were both pretty much in tears and it was quite emotional to meet her,” she added.
Ms Siddiq said Nazanin was “warm and motherly”, was “in every way” and spoke of how she dreamed of doing simple things like doing the school run and going to the park with her daughter Gabriella, seven, while she was in solitary confinement.
This breaking news will be updated.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/breaking-nazanin-zaghari-ratcliffe-blasts-26518566 Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe blasts government, says 'this should have happened six years ago'