Former British-Iranian prisoner joins the Freedom for Iran movement

Zhagari-Ratcliffe has been outspoken in her support for the demonstrators in Iran in light of the clashes and violence that have broken out.

 Nazanin and Richard Ratcliffe - New Year's Day 2011. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Nazanin and Richard Ratcliffe - New Year's Day 2011.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Nazanin Zhaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual citizen who was recently released from a six-year-long detainment in Iran, took to the streets on Saturday to join the Freedom for Iran march in London according to an exclusive report in British newspaper The Mirror

Zhaghari-Ratcliffe was raised in Iran and moved to the United Kingdom in 2007 for her master's degree. She met and married an English man, and the couple had a child in 2009. In 2013, Zhaghari-Ratcliffe became a British citizen. The Belfast Telegraph reported in 2020 that she used to go back to Iran to visit her parents frequently.

On her way back from a family visit in April 2016, Zhaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) at Imam Khomeini Airport. According to a 2016 Guardian article, the initial reason for her arrest was not clear, but Iran was generally suspicious of those holding dual citizenship and had detained others like her in the past.  

In September 2016, Zhaghari-Ratcliffe was charged with attempting to overthrow the Islamic Republic and sentenced to five years in jail. She was temporarily released on parole at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, during which time she lived at her parent's house and was required to remain within 300 meters of the house. In September 2020, she was brought up on additional vague charges, according to a Telegraph article from that month. 

Imprisonment and eventual release

 Pro-government peoples rally against the recent protest gatherings in Iran, after the Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran, Iran September 23, 2022.  (credit: Majid Asgaripour/ WANA via Reuters) Pro-government peoples rally against the recent protest gatherings in Iran, after the Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran, Iran September 23, 2022. (credit: Majid Asgaripour/ WANA via Reuters)

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, launched and maintained a campaign for her release while she was imprisoned. Both Ratcliffe and Zhaghari-Ratcliffe went on hunger strikes. Ratcliffe called on both the British and Iranian governments to release his wife repeatedly. The United Nations called for Zhaghari-Ratcliffe's release on several occasions. 

Her original sentence ended in 2021, with a new court date scheduled seven days after her release to address the new charges, per a BBC article from March 2021. One month later, she was found guilty of propaganda activities against the government and sentenced to an additional year in prison. She carried out her sentence in full, returning to the UK in March 2022 after lengthy negotiations between the British and Iranian governments.

Zhagari-Ratcliffe has been outspoken in her support for the demonstrators in Iran in light of the clashes and violence that have broken out recently after the death of Mahsa Amini. In addition to taking to the streets, she also filmed herself cutting her hair in solidarity with the protestors.