Despite all she’s been through, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was composed, articulate, and dignified — but her attitude shouldn’t be misunderstood.
This is a woman who feels aggrieved – not only by the Iranian authorities who imprisoned her, but also by the British ministers who have been responsible for her case for the past six years.
Her husband Richard, who has campaigned tirelessly, thanked the current Secretary of State, Liz Truss, but Nazanin couldn’t bring herself to do the same†
Read more: The six-year struggle for freedom
When I asked her about the six years she had missed with her husband and daughter, she looked at seven-year-old daughter Gabriella sitting in the front row, with an expression of love and regret.
When I asked if she was angry she told me how a… “black hole” in her heart that she had decided to leave on the plane she was returning to. “I’m not going to live with a grudge. It was cruel,” she said.
But no one who listened to that press conference will conclude that anger was left behind—however masterfully it was mastered.
Read more: What do we know about the deal that secured Nazanin’s freedom?
Six years of her life were lost to a nightmare. In that time, her daughter—not two when they divorced—has become a nearly eight-year-old girl. And as for Nazanin, it could have been resolved six years ago if British government ministers had acted differently. It’s a huge thing to live with.
“I think the anger will probably come,” Tulip Siddiq told me. As a local MP from Nazanin, Ms. Siddiq has been one of the most vocal advocates for her cause.
“The chapter is closed because my voter is home, that’s fine, but I owe it to Nazanin to investigate why it took so long,” she told me.
According to Tulip Siddiq, Nazanin was told as early as the second week of her imprisonment that she would be released if the UK settled a 40-year debt for an undelivered order of tanks and armored vehicles.
That was finally paid last week in the form of a fund that can only be used for humanitarian purposes and that does not conflict with the economic sanctions currently imposed on Iran.
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“She told me as soon as the debt was paid she was home. They just pushed her out the door,” Ms Siddiq said.
The ministers insist it was much more complicated than that. They claim it took years of complex diplomatic efforts to secure Nazanin’s release parallel to the debt issue, rather than as an exchange.
But most of us would forgive the person who just went through six years of hell at that explanation.
And barring an investigation into what went wrong in her case, Nazanin said she wouldn’t rest until other people with dual citizenship — including Morad Tahbazu – who remain in Iran are released.
“There are so many other people in prison who have been there for a long time. Everyone has the right to be free. Freedom is something that must be given. The world should unite to ensure that no one is held hostage in prison, ” she said.
As ministers felt pressured over the imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe over the past six years, she made it clear today that she has no intention of taking the pressure off now that she is home.