Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe: Should we do more to help her?

The case of Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe is a distressing one. Nazanin, a dual British-Iranian citizen, was arrested in Tehrain in April 2016 along with her one year old daughter. She was visiting her parents, to allow them to see her daughter for the first time. Accused of spying, something she denies, resulted in a five year jail sentence. The incarceration is bad enough for Nazanin, but its affect must be brutal for her daughter whose not seen her Mother or Father for two years. There are reports that Nazanin’s physical and mental health are severely affected.


Back in the UK, her husband heads a campaign for her release. He’s lobbied the UK Government with only limited success. Even just getting access to Nazanin by telephone has taken a gargantuan effort. Her parents rarely are allowed to visit, and her daughter’s British passport has been confiscated. This means she too is trapped in Iran unable to leave, effectively a hostage. Whatever the charges proven or unproven against her Mother, not allowing a young child to return to the land of her birth is barbarous.

Just this week there are reports of new charges being placed on Nazanin. This isn’t uncommon in Iran, but in Nazanin’s case each step forward seems to result in two steps back. It is a shocking case of human’s being used as a political football in a wider geo-political power game.

The UK Government has raised her case with the Iranian authorities. Our Foreign Secretary has visited Tehran and mentioned her case there, even if his attempts appeared cack handed. Quite what was said is open to conjecture, as Nazanin’s husband was refused a visa to join in. The UK Ambassador backed a recent request for Nazanin to be temporarily released for her daughter’s fourth birthday. Our Government says it is doing “everything possible” to bring Nazanin home.

That’s diplomatic language. Could they do more? Yes of course. Would that be wise? That depends on your viewpoint.

The real sadness of this case is the lack of communication, at least in public, between the Iranian and UK Governments. The relationship has been fractious for a long time, and doesn’t show signs of improving any time soon. There may well be diplomatic efforts being made behind the scenes, but the wider context of trade and Middle Eastern politics often seem to get in the way. Nazanin’s case just don’t hold the same importance as the Syrian Civil War or Israel and Palestine to the great and the good of both countries. Oh and let’s not forget that Iran is involved in a proxy war in both those places.

Reading about Nazanin’s case, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking it is a hopeless struggle. The Iranians won’t budge, so why waste your time with it. To anyone thinking like that, I’d ask them to think about the last time they were treated unfairly. Did they just accept the injustice? More likely they spoke out and tried to change things. If we all just accepted the status quo, the world would be anarchic with egotistical maniacs reeking havoc on us poor mortals.

Maybe you feel that keeping the Iranians “on side” is more important than one woman’s freedom. I believe it is not an either or option. We can ensure they keep to their international obligations AND free a woman who clearly hasn’t committed any crime.

So if you want to help Nazanin and her family, just do one thing. Go to, click on the “How You Can Help” link and take action.

Go on, do it now before you forget. Thank you.

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