Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been temporarily released from prison after 873 days behind bars.
Prison guards informed her on the morning of August 23 that she had 10 minutes to get ready to leave Evin Prison. They then escorted her to the exit. Once out, she asked a passerby to use a mobile phone to call her brother, who came to pick her up within 10 minutes. She then traveled to Damavand with her brother and father, to join her daughter Gabriella, her mother, and family members.
Gabriella, who is now four years old, presented her mother with flowers from the family garden.
Initially she will be out of prison for three days, until Sunday, August 26, but her lawyer hopes the release period will be extended, as has been the case with other prisoners on her ward who have been released on a temporary basis. Her lawyer will report to authorities on her behalf.
Speaking on the phone to her husband Richard Ratcliffe, she said: “I was so emotional to see my grandmother today. I cried so much. I felt so overwhelmed. My dad’s home is not my home – but it is so much better than prison.”
There are three conditions to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release: that she agrees not to give any interviews to the media, that she not attempt to leave the country, and that she not visit any foreign embassy, in particular the UK embassy. Both Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her father have promised authorities that they will follow the rules of her release.
In early August, authorities told the dual Iranian-British national that she might be granted a short period out of prison, but her hopes had been repeatedly dashed. Speaking about the turmoil of the last few weeks, she told her husband: “I wasn’t expecting it at all when it was mentioned two weeks ago. I didn’t tell Gabriella or for a long time my mum – so if it didn’t happen I would be the only one to suffer.”
Her husband expressed gratitude to British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his ministry for their efforts to free Zaghari-Ratcliffe. “I have been very critical in the past – I may need to be critical again. But today is a good day,” he said.
The CEO of the charity Thomson Reuters Foundation, where Zaghari-Ratcliffe was employed when she was arrested in 2016, said in a statement: "We see this as a positive sign and hope that this will lead to her permanent release and an end to her traumatic ordeal for good. Nazanin and her family have waited long enough for justice."
Although her employer expressed relief at seeing photographs of her with her daughter Gabriella, she said what was "missing from the picture" was Nazanin's husband, who she described as inspirational for his efforts to free his wife.
Nazanin's Story, a play about Zaghari-Ratcliffe's ordeal, is currently playing at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.