Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national from Hampstead, has been in an Iran prison since April 2016, on charges of spying.

After Tehran ignored fresh calls for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release, she is spending her 40th birthday in jail.

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, made an appeal to the authorities in Tehran for her release on Boxing Day, which happened to be her birthday. However, the authorities did not respond to the appeal.

Richard, in a video message, said that December 28 would be Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s 1,000th day in prison.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at the international airport of Tehran while she was about to board a flight to the UK. She was sentenced to five years in prison on the accusation of spying, a charge which she has always denied.

Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, has tried multiple times to push Tehran for her release, but failed.

Tulip Siddiq, the Labour MP for Hampstead, took to Twitter to urge the government to do more for her release. “For three years, I’ve fought alongside Richard to free Nazanin. We’ve shared moments of joy and despair, glimmers of hope and sorrow. Today is Nazanin’s 40th birthday and she’s still jailed in Iran. How much longer will this family suffer? Our government must step up its game & bring her home,” she wrote.

Amnesty International said Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s birthday would be a “day of anguish” and not of celebrations. The organisation also urged the government to use “every channel of communication available to it” to make sure her imprisonment is ended.

Amnesty International UK’s director Kate Allen, said, “Her birthday will be yet another painful moment for Nazanin and her family. Despite everything, we send Nazanin our warmest wishes. She is a prisoner of conscience who should never have been jailed in the first place.”

Hunt, too, wished NazaninZaghari-Ratcliffe via Twitter. “Happy 40th birthday Nazanin! Thinking of you and your family this Boxing Day. If the thoughts and prayers of a whole nation can make a difference to you and other innocent people detained in Iran then this will be last birthday you will be suffering such a great injustice,” he tweeted.

Last week, a British-Iranian academic Abbas Edalat, who had been detained in Iran on allegations of spying, was released. Edalat, a mathematics and computer science professor at the Imperial College London, was detained in Tehran in April on “security charges”, while he had gone to attend an academic workshop.