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UK vows to leave 'no stone unturned' to free Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Zaghari-Ratcliffe's official release date is March 7, her husband Richard Ratcliffe told AFP

Date of publication: 17 January, 2021

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UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said his government had "intensified" negotiations to secure the "immediate" release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, which her family expect could happen within weeks.

The UK said on Sunday it had intensified efforts to secure the release from Tehran of detained British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after her family said her detention could end in seven weeks.

"I think that's based on the existing sentence," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said of the timeline, stressing that Iran had repeatedly dashed hopes for Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release after postponing another trial in November.

Britain is "pushing as hard as we can to get the immediate release, not in seven weeks, but as soon as possible, of Nazanin and all of our other dual nationals", Raab said.

"We have intensified those negotiations and are leaving no stone unturned, and I want to get Nazanin released, absolutely as soon as possible."

Raab added that with the inauguration next week of Joe Biden's US administration, the "contours and the thinking" in Iran may change, and there may be "additional possibilities".

The comments were welcomed by Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband Richard Ratcliffe, who has campaigned for her release since she was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016 after visiting relatives with their young daughter.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the media organisation's philanthropic arm. She denied charges of sedition but was convicted and jailed for five years. She has spent more than four years in jail or under house arrest.

Read also: Dilemma for West over foreigners jailed in Iran

Unless Iran finds new grounds to extend her detention, the official release date is March 7, Richard Ratcliffe told AFP.

"We haven't yet had a response from the Iranian embassy to our family attempts to discuss with them the arrangements for Nazanin's release, which is not a great sign," he said. "But Nazanin is remaining hopeful."

Ratcliffe said his wife has made a seven-week wall calendar using Alice in Wonderland notepaper to count down the weeks, with the last week marked "freedom".

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