‘Emotional Legacy’: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Says She Can’t Look At Daughter’s Baby Photos

    Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has spoken about the emotional “legacy” of being imprisoned in Iran for six years that means she still cannot look at photos of her daughter as a baby.

    The charity worker’s daughter, Gabriella, was just 22 months old when the British-Iranian was arrested on trumped up charges of plotting against the Iranian regime, which she has always denied, in 2016.

    The family – including husband Richard Ratcliffe and Gabriella, who is now seven – were reunited in March after UK officials finally settled a 40-year £400million debt to Tehran.

    Speaking to the BBC’s Emma Barnett, Zaghari-Ratcliffe claimed prime minister Boris Johnson admitted to her the link between the money owed and her release.

    Ministers had for years insisted the two were unrelated, despite the family arguing otherwise.

    Zaghari-Ratcliffe explained she wanted to “come to terms with what had happened to me, just like when somebody is hit by a car or when somebody gets cancer″ and she wanted Johnson to know “what has happened to me. What it looked like”.

    She continued: “I have lost that six years of my life and my child’s life. There is nothing that can make that up for me.

    “Can I take those years back? I don’t think so. I can’t still look at my daughter’s baby pictures. There was a huge amount of videos and film and pictures that my family had taken from her when she was away from me. I just couldn’t. I just can’t go through with them.”

    Zaghari-Ratcliffe added: “I had a lot of her baby toys and baby clothes in Iran collected to be shipped back with me to London. And they finally arrived. I couldn’t open. So there is this legacy, the emotional legacy that will stay with me forever.”

    Tears of joy were shed as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Richard Ratcliffe and daughter Gabriella were together for the first time since 2016.

    Zaghari-Ratcliffe said Gabriella was the source of her strength, and it was the love of her child that kept her alive.

    She said: “Had I known on that day that I’m going to be in prison for five years, and then one extra year in Iran banned to leave the country, I would have just dropped dead. I don’t think I could survive.

    “But also, on the other hand, I was telling a very, very dear friend of mine that human being is tough, you know, is tenacious, is resilient. But it amazes me how, if you come out of it, how stronger you will be. And I think that that is what happened to me.”

    <strong>Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard Ratcliffe and their daughter Gabriella before her imprisonment.</strong>
    Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard Ratcliffe and their daughter Gabriella before her imprisonment.

    Family Handout via PA Media

    She spoke about her husband, whose tireless campaigning included going on a 21-day hunger strike outside the Foreign Office: “It has been an amazing journey for both of us. If anything our love has gone a lot deeper.

    “We have gained so much. We have lost a lot more. But the mind of human being works in a way that you thankfully gradually forget the bad things and you remember the good things.

    “So I would like to hold on to the idea that my love has got a lot deeper than before.”

    <strong>Richard Ratcliffe holds a 'Hunger For Justice' sign on the 21st and final day of his hunger strike outside the Foreign Office.</strong>
    Richard Ratcliffe holds a ‘Hunger For Justice’ sign on the 21st and final day of his hunger strike outside the Foreign Office.

    SOPA Images via Getty Images

    Zaghari-Ratcliffe also revealed she was forced to sign a “false confession” in front of a UK government witness before she was allowed to leave Iran.

    The dual national said the act captured on camera by the Iranians was “dehumanising”, and that she expects Tehran to use it against her in the future.

    While “under duress”, she said she had to admit to the Iranians’ allegations after they detained her for six years having accused her of spying, a charge she and the UK denied.

    Zaghari-Ratcliffe said she was taken to the airport by the Revolutionary Guards without seeing her parents on the day in March when she was to be freed.

    “Instead I was made to sign the forced confession at the airport in the presence of the British government,” Zaghari-Ratcliffe said.

    “They told me that ‘you won’t be able to get on the plane’, and I knew that that was like a last-minute game because I knew they were… They told me that they have been given the money,” she said.

    “So what is the point of making me sign a piece of paper which is incorrect? It’s a false confession.”

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