The husband of a woman jailed in Iran has made a renewed appeal for her release ahead of her 40th birthday on Boxing Day.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian mother who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport in April 2016.
The charity worker, of Hampstead in north London, was later sentenced to five years in jail after being accused of spying, a charge she vehemently denies.
Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have called her incarceration a “travesty of justice”.
“She is innocent and should not be kept in prison, separated for so long from her family and her young daughter.
“While she’s imprisoned, Nazanin continues to suffer both physically and mentally.
“We – and indeed the whole country – know what a travesty of justice it is that Nazanin continues to be detained.
“Her case, and also those of other dual-nationality prisoners being wrongly held in Iran, have rightly attracted global interest and deep concern.
“Sadly, Nazanin is not the only innocent Londoner to be incarcerated in Iran. There are cases of British citizens being arrested when simply visiting their families. They cannot be forgotten and the Government must relentlessly fight for their release too.
“London is home to a large Iranian community who make a valuable contribution to this great, diverse city. Together, we are united in calling on the Iranian authorities to release Nazanin immediately along with the others who are being wrongly detained, to allow them to return home and be reunited with their loved ones.
“We are grateful to the Foreign Secretary for prioritising her case and trying to secure her release. We are also grateful to Nazanin’s local MP, Tulip Siddiq, who has tirelessly campaigned for her constituent’s release.
“With Christmas approaching and, as Nazanin turns 40 on Boxing Day, we are calling on the Iranian authorities to release her at once so she can return home and be reunited with her family.”
The month before, she had been granted a three-day release but her request for an extension was denied and she was forced to say goodbye to her four-year-old daughter, Gabriella, and return to jail.
Amnesty International said Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s birthday will inevitably be a “day of anguish” rather than a day of celebration, and has called on the UK Government to use “every channel of communication available to it” in its efforts to secure her release.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s director, said: “Her birthday will be yet another painful moment for Nazanin and her family.
“What should have been a day of celebration for Nazanin will once again be a day of anguish – her third birthday behind bars. Despite everything, we send Nazanin our warmest wishes.
“Nazanin is a prisoner of conscience who should never have been jailed in the first place.
“The UK Government should continue to press for Nazanin’s release using every channel of communication available to it. Our supporters will continue to do likewise.
“Our present to Nazanin for her birthday is a simple one: it’s a promise that we’ll campaign for Nazanin’s freedom for as long as the family need us to.”