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Six years in Iran: UK-Iranian woman's prison ordeal

A British-Iranian aid worker, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, poses for a photo after she was released from house arrest in Tehran, Iran March 7, 2021.
A British-Iranian aid worker, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, poses for a photo after she was released from house arrest in Tehran, Iran March 7, 2021.

London: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian held in Iran for six years on charges of plotting to overthrow the government and taking part in a rally, is on her way home after Britain secured her release.

We look back at her battle to be reunited with her family in England. - Airport arrest - Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, is arrested on April 3, 2016, with her 22-month-old daughter Gabriella at Tehran airport after visiting relatives for Iranian New Year.

The toddler's British passport is confiscated and she is handed over to her maternal grandparents. Incarcerated at the notorious Evin prison in the Iranian capital, Zaghari-Ratcliffe, then 37, is accused in June of plotting a "soft overthrow" of the Iranian government with the support of foreign intelligence services. - Jailed for five years - Zaghari-Ratcliffe is sentenced to five years in jail on September 9 for taking part in a "sedition movement" in Iran in 2009. The sentence is upheld on appeal in April 2017. In November that year, Boris Johnson, then foreign minister, commits a faux pas by telling a parliamentary committee that Zaghari-Ratcliffe trained journalists in Iran, a remark that fuels Tehran's accusations.

A month later, during a visit to Iran, Johnson presses for her release. In March, 2019 , London grants diplomatic protection to Zaghari-Ratcliffe, saying her detention does not comply with international law. The following month the Iranian authorities offer to free her if the United States drops accusations against an Iranian woman in jail in Australia. London rejects the offer. - Hunger strike, psychiatric ward - Zaghari-Ratcliffe goes on a hunger strike in June 2019 that lasts two weeks. In July she is transferred to a hospital's psychiatric ward where she stays for several days. In October, little Gabriella returns to London so she can attend school under her father Richard Ratcliffe's care.

He has fought for years for his wife's release, says she is being held "hostage" as a part of a sinister political game over money Britain never paid back after cancelling a massive tank deal paid for by Iran's ousted Shah. - Released, then new nightmare - In March 2020, Zaghari-Ratcliffe is released on parole because of the coronavirus pandemic and placed under house arrest at her parents' home. In September she is hit with a new charge -- spreading propaganda against Tehran. After the end of her first sentence she is given another year in prison on April 26, 2021 for taking part in a rally outside the Iranian embassy in London in 2019. She is also banned from leaving Iran for a year In October, she loses her appeal, raising the spectre of a return to jail. Britain's foreign minister Dominic Raab describes Iran's treatment of her as "torture". - Freedom - On Tuesday, Iran gives Zaghari-Ratcliffe back her passport, raising hopes for her release. On Wednesday, the MP of her London constituency announces she is "at the airport in Tehran and on her way home". Iranian state television confirms she has been handed over to British authorities.

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