Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ‘unjust detention’ has come to an end and she will return to the UK today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter.
Local MP for Zaghari-Ratcliffe Tulip Siddiq tweeted a picture of herself on a 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,” Siddiq wrote. “Nazanin is now in the air, fleeing 6 years of hell in Iran.”
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a tweet that Zaghari-Ratcliffe and fellow Iranian Briton Anoosheh Ashoori “will be reunited with their families later today”.
Iranian state broadcaster Press TV said Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been handed over to the British government, without providing further details. The country’s semi-official Fars news agency said she was being transferred to Tehran’s Imam Khomenei International Airport with a British negotiating team.
On Wednesday, Hojjat Kermani, Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s attorney, told CNN he did not want to comment on the latest developments at this time.
He earlier told Reuters that Zaghari-Ratcliffe and another detained British-Iranian, Anousheh Ashouri, were “en route to Tehran airport to leave Iran”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “delighted” that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been released from “wrongful imprisonment” in a statement on Wednesday.
“Nazanin and those close to him have shown great courage, strength and steadfastness during what has been an incredibly difficult time, and I would like to pay tribute to all those who campaigned tirelessly for his release,” said Khan. “London can’t wait to welcome him home.”
On Wednesday, a campaign group that has been pushing for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release thanked Siddiq, the family’s 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 band wrote on Twitter.
Husband’s Hunger Strikes
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was first detained at a Tehran airport in April 2016 after a vacation to see her family with her daughter.
She was accused of working with organizations that allegedly attempted to overthrow the Iranian regime and was later found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, have repeatedly denied the espionage charges against her.
In April 2021, she was sentenced to a second prison term and a travel ban for spreading propaganda against the regime, and lost an appeal in her case in October.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe received British diplomatic protection in 2019 and was designated a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
She undertook at least three hunger strikes while in detention, one of them in a desperate attempt to seek treatment for lumps in her breasts and numbness in her limbs.
Her husband Richard Ratcliffe also went on hunger strikes in solidarity with his wife.
The couple’s daughter, Gabriella, who was just 22 months old when her mother was arrested, is now almost eight years old.
In 2019, Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s supporters said she was transferred to the psychiatric ward of a Tehran hospital and denied visits from her father.
In February 2020, Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family said they believed they contracted Covid-19 in Evin prison outside Tehran.
CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali, Vasco Cotovio, Nada Bashir, Sarra Alayyan, Zeena Saifi and Lauren Said-Moorhouse contributed to this report.