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Who is Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard and how old is her daughter?

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 44, has been free for exactly one year now.

The British-Iranian dual-national was help captive in Iran’s jails for six years, sometimes in solitary confinement.

She was stopped in April 2016 at Tehran’s airport when returning home from a family holiday in Iran with her daughter Gabriella, then one.

The Revolutionary Guard claimed that Nazanin was a member of organisations that were trying to overthrow the regime, when in face she worked for Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency. 

She was convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s government – and in September 2016 was sentenced to five years in jail.

Her husband Richard, a London-based accountant, found himself in the midst of a geopolitical drama, resulting in him turning into a political campaigner trying to secure her release.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, her husband Richard Ratcliffe – with Gabriella behind them – pictured arriving for a meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London on May 13, 2022

In total, she spent six years in detention, during which time she suffered severe ill health and stopped eating. 

At times, she was held in a 2x3m cell with no lights or windows. 

In March 2020, Nazanin was temporarily released from jail as a result of the Covid pandemic.   

But in April 2021, she was given an additional one-year jail sentence, even though her initial five-year sentence had by now expired.

In total, it took five foreign secretaries before she was freed – after the UK government paid off its £400m debt to Iran. 

She now lives back at home in London with Richard and Gabriella. 

Who Nazanin’s husband Richard?  

Richard Ratcliffe, 47, is a London accountant who was privately educated in Fleet, Hampshire.

When he first found out his wife had been detained at the airport, he was calm. 

But a few days later, when he realised she wasn’t going to be released, he panicked.

Initially he kept quiet about what had happened, he told GQ, because this was what the foreign office advised him to do.

But he later said that was ‘cynical’ and he began speaking out.

He went public in May 2016, doing interviews which he hated as people always asked him how he felt and he couldn’t answer. 

He later admitted he felt scared and was suppressing his emotions – admitting the home was so quiet without his wife and daughter. 

British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe pictured with her daughter Gabriella when she was on brief release from prison in Iran

British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe pictured with her daughter Gabriella when she was on brief release from prison in Iran

He was allowed to speak to his wife on the phone after 60 days and they both cried.

His boss at work was apparently understanding as Richard became a huge campaigner – watching romantic comedies to destress in the evenings. 

He began protesting outside the Iranian embassy, while more than 800,00 people signed a petition for Nazanin’s release.

When Richard heard that his wife’s incarceration was linked to unpaid debt by the British government, he again sought media attention. 

But the UK government briefed against him.  

In 2021 – despairing about the lack of progress – he undertook a 21-day hunger strike outside Britain’s Foreign Office.

He slept outside a tent, putting pressure on the government to help free his wife. 

But he ended it after a doctor advised him to end it.

He said at the time: ‘We probably hoped we’d get a breakthrough doing this. We haven’t yet.

‘I didn’t want to go out in an ambulance. I want to walk out with my head held high.’

He also held up a placard which read: ‘Love is a verb, not a noun.’  

Afterwards, he checked himself into hospital 12kg lighter.  

When his wife was finally released, he spoke of the enormity of the decision.

He said: ‘This is real… looking over at Nazanin when she was sleeping. Gabriella between the two of us. 

‘The happiest bit was walking around the garden the day after in the sunshine.’

How old is their daughter Gabriella? 

Gabriella, now eight, was almost two when her mother was arrested.

After her mother was taken away, she went to stay with her grandparents in Iran but often woke in the night screaming for her mother.  

Despite her father being in the UK, she stayed in Iran to be closer to her mother. 

She went to an Iranian nursery. And on visits to see her mother in jail she would sing Islamic Republic songs – something which horrified Nazanin.

She also forgot her English so was unable to talk to her father who lived so far away.  

In October 2019, Nazanin’s brother bought Gabriella to the UK so that she could start school.  

Although Nazanin did not want her daughter to leave, she also felt it was for the best.  

At first, Richard could not talk to his daughter as she mainly spoke Farsi, but soon she learnt English. 

When Nazanin was eventually released, Gabriella was seen in footage running towards her, asking ‘Is that mummy?’ 

But when Nazanin got home, she could reportedly barely look at Gabriella’s toys and younger clothes as they were a reminder of all she lost. 




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