Nazanin Zaghari–Ratcliffe's Release: "Richard showed what love really means"

After years in Iran detention, Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe was reunited this week with her husband and their daughter in the UK.

Nazanin Zaghari–Ratcliffe's Release: "Richard showed what love really means"

After years in Iran detention, Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe was reunited this week with her husband and their daughter in the UK. The next step is to rebuild their lives. However, Caroline Hawley from BBC, who was in touch with them throughout their ordeal, said that the bond between them helped them through the worst of times.

Six years ago, Richard Ratcliffe was standing at Gatwick Airport waving good-bye to his wife.

Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe was flying to Iran to take their daughter Gabriella. Richard was not able to believe that they wouldn't return home within a few weeks.

He once said to me, "It was a somewhat rushed farewell." "Gabriella was just one and three quarters at the time and quite a handful. I just wanted to wish her luck on the flight.

Nazanin stepped out of a plane at RAF Brize-Norton earlier this week. After many years of detention, she was finally freed by British-Iranian Anoosheh Ahoori. A tiny voice said, "Is that Mummy?"

Gabriella, now seven years old, ran to hug her mother.

Richard, who must not have wanted to stop Nazanin from being held, stayed put.

The gentle, kind accountant, who waged such an irony campaign to get his wife back, allowed Gabriella to run into the arms of her mother, while Nazanin cried with relief.

Their story is typical of an ordinary family caught up in murky international politics. They have a long-overdue British Iranian debt and are involved in diplomatic maneuverings that take them far from their normal lives.

It is a tale of separation.

It's about love. A mother's love for her child and a husband's love for his wife are the heart of the story. One man's unwavering dedication to his wife.

Tulip Siddiq (the couple's MP) says, "He showed us how love really is."

Their first morning together since the reunion began with Richard making Nazanin tea. After that, they went for a walk together in the park. This was where Gabriella and Richard began to rediscover each other.

"I don’t think he’d mind me saying there’s a certain shyness, getting to know each other back - a bit like when we first started dating," Ms Siddiq told me.

When I asked him about Nazanin's relationship, he kept repeating the phrase "baby steps". He sounds 10 years older now."

Richard and Nazanin met for the first time in 2007. He immediately fell in love with Nazanin, and later described it as "like returning home". They met at an academic conference in 2007 when a mutual friend introduced them.

Richard's younger sister Rebecca says that "She transformed his entire life when she came along."

He just loves her. He considers her everything. You can see why she is so special.

Richard and Nazanin married two years after their first meeting - first at a register office, then at an Iranian traditional celebration. Gabriella was then born in 2014.

"When they were taken from him, it marked the darkest hour of his life. Rebecca Ratcliffe states that he had no other choice but to fight for them.

Richard's remarkable campaign lifted Nazanin during her darkest days in prison, when she felt suicidal. Ms Siddiq said that even though Nazanin was taunted by prison guards, Richard's act of love only earned her more years in prison.

"Nazanin said that she stood tall because she was proud of her husband's campaigning for her, and that gave her the strength she needed to go on," Ms Siddiq explains.

Nazanin stated to doctors that when Nazanin was in isolation confinement with lights constantly on, her interrogators teased her about Richard's affairs. They also had photographic evidence.

Nazanin used to hear one of her female guards talk loudly to her child outside her cell. Nazanin stated, "It was unbearable." "I dreaded her shifts because I knew that she would torture me."

Nazanin's hardest moment was the separation from Gabriella. Gabriella had just stopped breastfeeding when Nazanin was arrested. The guilt of the mother for not being able care for her child was also present.

She wrote to Gabriella, nicknamed Gisou, in 2017: "Forgiven for all the nights that I wasn't by your side to hold you warm little hand until you fell asleep.

"You, your father and I will not succumb to this storm of fate. Our love has no borders. It is our life. We will one day be able live again all our lives.

"My Gisou! There will come a time when we will all be together again, and we will tenderly hold each other's loving arms."

That day came on Thursday. Gabriella slept in bed with her parents for the first times since she was a newborn.

Tulip Siddiq was told by Nazanin that her daughter is attached to her since childhood "like an extra leg".

They must learn to live together again as husband and wife. Rebecca Ratcliffe laughs that their flat is "pigsty" and is full of campaign materials.

She says, "They are different people than they were six year ago."

"They have shared very traumatizing, but distinct experiences. They need to work together to rebuild their relationship. There's also the challenge to co-parenting again.

They have wondered for years if they have the time to have another child. Nazanin will turn 44 on Boxing Day.

Richard spoke tenderly to me about Nazanin last year and said: "I don’t think I can understand what she’s been through." He is aware that there will be "bumpy times" ahead.

For the moment, however, it is enough to be together.

Richard sent a short tweet with a photo of the three of their embrace, which summarized the reunion: "Noplace like home." We are grateful to all who made it possible...

Rebecca Ratcliffe states, "Regardless of the devils they may face, they know they love one another." "If there is one couple that will survive this experience, it is them."

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