Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe addresses the media for the first time since leaving Iran

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe will face the media for the first time since his release from Iran at a press conference on Monday.

The 43-year-old, who landed in Britain on Thursday after the UK finally agreed to settle a £400million debt dating back to the 1970s, will be joined by her husband, Richard, to make statements at Portcullis House at noon.

Before the conference, the couple will attend a private meeting with the Speaker of the House, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, joined by their local MP, Tulip Siddiq, who has long campaigned for their return.

Ms Siddiq, Labor MP for Hampstead and Kilburn and shadow economic secretary to the Treasury, said she was ’emotional’ as she met the British-Iranian charity worker for the first time after six years of campaigning.

She told the PA news agency it was ‘pretty weird’ when the pair met in her constituency on Sunday because she had come to know Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s life ‘so intimately’ in him talking as she went through her ordeal, but the pair had never met in person before.

“We knew we were going to meet and she called me to say I was one of the first people she wanted to see,” Ms Siddiq said.

“So she came to West Hampstead and we hugged for ages and we were both in tears and it was quite emotional to meet her.

“She knew so much about me and I knew so much about her and she thanked me profusely but I told her ‘it wasn’t me, it was a shared victory and everyone here in this community has campaigned for you and of course all credit to Richard – he was the one who was relentless in his campaign”.

Nazanin with her husband Richard and their daughter Gabriella (Family Handout/PA)

Ms Siddiq said Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was ‘warm and motherly’, was ‘in every way just as I imagined her’, and explained how she dreams of doing simple things such as running to school and going to the park with her daughter, Gabriella, seven, while she was in solitary confinement.

“Surreal, completely surreal,” she added.

Ms Siddiq began campaigning for her release in April 2016 when Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband came to her asking for help in getting his wife back.

The MP became a prominent voice calling for more to be done to get Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe brought back and backed Mr Ratcliffe during his campaign.

Ms Siddiq spoke out during Mr Ratcliffe’s hunger strike outside the Foreign Office in central London in October and November 2021 and frequently lobbied the Government about it, raising Ms’ detention Zaghari-Ratcliffe in the House of Commons.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe detained
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori arrive in Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, after being released by Iranian authorities (Leon Neal/PA)

She said it was also the first time Mr Ratcliffe had been reunited with his wife after years of being ‘defined by his solitary status’.

“It was surreal because he was there, he wasn’t alone, I made a joke with him, which was probably in bad taste but I’ve known him for so long, I said ‘I see that you ain’t Billy no friends anymore’ and he was laughing because he knew exactly what I meant,” she said.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed on security grounds after being detained in 2016 at Imam Khomeini Airport after a holiday visit to Iran, where she introduced her daughter to her parents.

Fellow British-Iranian Anoosheh Ashoori, 67, was sent home along with Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

He was arrested in August 2017 while visiting his elderly mother in Tehran.

He was held in Evin prison for almost five years after being accused of espionage.

Both have always denied the allegations.

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