Zaghary-Ratcliffe’s “unfair detention” is over and she will return to the UK today, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter.
Local UK MP Zaghari-Ratcliffe Tulip Siddiq tweeted a photo of her aboard the plane, saying she is now on her way home.
“It’s been 6 long years – and I can’t believe I can FINALLY share this photo,” Siddique wrote. “Nazanin is now in the air, flying away from a 6-year hell in Iran.”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted that Zaghari-Ratcliffe and his compatriot, British Iranian citizen Anousheh Ashuri, “will be reunited with their families later today.”
Iranian state television Press reported that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been handed over to the UK government without providing any further details. The country’s semi-official Fars news agency reported that she was flown to Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport along with a British negotiating team.
Hojat Kermani, Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s lawyer, told CNN on Wednesday that he did not want to comment on the latest developments just yet.
He previously told Reuters that Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoushe Ashuri, another Briton of Iranian descent, were “on their way to Tehran airport to leave Iran.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “delighted” that Zaghary-Ratcliffe had been released from “wrongful detention” in a statement on Wednesday.
“Nazanin and her loved ones showed great courage, strength and resilience during an unimaginably difficult time, and I want to pay tribute to all those who tirelessly fought for her release,” Khan said. “London is looking forward to her at home.”
On Wednesday, the campaign group that pushed for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release thanked Siddique, the family MP, for her work on the case.
“You made a difference @TulipSiddiq! Thank you for all the amazing support you have given #FreeNazanin over these 6 long years,” the group wrote on Twitter.
Husband’s hunger strike
Zagari-Ratcliffe was first detained at Tehran airport in April 2016 after a vacation to see her family with her daughter.
She was accused of collaborating with organizations allegedly trying to overthrow the Iranian regime and was later convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.
Zagari-Ratcliffe and her employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, have repeatedly denied allegations of espionage against her.
In April 2021, she was given a second prison term and travel ban on charges of spreading propaganda against the regime, and in October she lost her appeal in her case.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe received UK diplomatic protection in 2019 and was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
During her detention, she went on at least three hunger strikes, one of which was in a desperate attempt to seek medical attention for chest tightness and numbness in her limbs.
Her husband Richard Ratcliffe also went on a hunger strike in solidarity with his wife.
The couple’s daughter Gabrielle, who was only 22 months old at the time of her mother’s arrest, is now almost eight.
In 2019, Zagari-Ratcliffe’s supporters claimed that she had been transferred to a psychiatric hospital in a hospital in Tehran and denied visiting her father.
In February 2020, the Zaghari-Ratcliffe family stated that they believe they contracted Covid-19 in Evin prison near Tehran.
Hamdi Alkhshali of CNN, Vasco Kotovio, Nada Bashir, Sarra Alaiyan, Zina Saifi and Lauren Said-Moorhouse contributed to this report.