Iran detainee’s husband says he wants daughter Gabriella to celebrate Christmas

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The husband of detained mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said he is determined their daughter should celebrate Christmas despite another year apart.

Richard Ratcliffe said seven-year-old Gabriella was “properly excited” about the festive season, although it was hard for his wife that she was still unable to be with them.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, has been detained in Iran since her arrest in 2016 on charges of plotting to overthrow the government – allegations she has always denied.

Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain with his daughter, Mr Ratcliffe said he believed it was important that she was able to enjoy Christmas.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is spending a sixth Christmas in detention in Iran (Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe/PA)

“This is Christmas number six apart. Gabriella here, obviously a lot bigger now, is properly excited about Christmas. And I think actually after the year we’ve had as a family, but the country more broadly, it’s been quite important to celebrate it,” he said.

“It’s quite hard for Nazanin being away, she’s certainly been tearful these past couple of days. It’s the realisation that she’s stuck there and not able to come home, but I think it’s actually important to hold onto good times amongst journeys like ours.”

Last year, Gabriella wrote a letter to Boris Johnson, asking him to bring back her mother for Christmas.

Asked what was on her list this year, Mr Ratcliffe said: “It’s quite a long list this year. I said: ‘You obviously want Mummy home?’ And she said: ‘Yeah, but not just that though.’

“Sylvanian Families have made it on. We do quite a bit of reworking our Christmas lists. I’m sure that happens in other houses where we don’t want to fix it just yet, so we’ve got the latest version.”

Richard Ratcliffe
Richard Ratcliffe went on hunger strike earlier this year (Aaron Chown/PA)

He said that recording a charity single for his wife with The Christians – who reworked their hit Man Don’t Cry as Naz Don’t Cry – had helped.

“Someone came up to us when I was doing the hunger strike and said: ‘Listen, the band The Christians are interested in re-working their single and releasing it’, and were we interested? And it was lovely, sitting on the pavement and not quite thinking straight,” he said.

“We went up to Liverpool after the hunger strike and had a lovely time with them in the studio, whacking on the drums and me trying to sing in tune.

“All of these things make a huge difference with keeping spirits up, just knowing that for however long this goes on for, people have not forgotten her.”

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