LONDON - The 5-year-old daughter of a British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran since 2016 has arrived back in Britain, her father said Friday, after making the “bittersweet” decision to bring her home.
Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been staying with relatives in Iran since her mother Nazanin’s detention on sedition charges, visiting her in jail each week.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, stated in an open letter released earlier this week that Gabriella, who only speaks a few words of English, would return to Britain “in the near future.”
Richard Ratcliffe confirmed Friday that his daughter had arrived home, saying “Gabriella came back to us late at night, a bit uncertain seeing those she only remembered from the phone.
“It has been a long journey to have her home, with bumps right until the end,” he added in the statement.
“Of course the job is not yet done until Nazanin is home. It was a hard goodbye for Nazanin and all her family. But let us hope this homecoming unlocks another.”
Ratcliffe told AFP last week that his daughter’s return would be “bittersweet.”
“It will be lovely to have her back ... and then also we will be weary of the fallout for Nazanin,” he said, noting that Gabriella had been his wife’s “lifeline and that lifeline will have been taken away.”
The young girl spent 3½ years living in Iran, visiting her mother in the Evin prison.
Her parents decided it would be best for her to be schooled in Britain.
“My baby will leave me to go to her father and start school in the UK,” her mother wrote in an open letter released earlier this month. “It will be a daunting trip for her travelling, and for me left behind.”
Arrested in 2016
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 as she was leaving Iran after taking their then 22-month-old daughter to visit her family.
She was sentenced to five years in jail for allegedly trying to topple the Iranian government.
A project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the media group’s philanthropic arm, she denies all charges.
The case has unfolded amid escalating tensions between Tehran and the West, particularly with the United States and Britain.