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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe sent back to prison after brief furlough

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe sent back to prison after brief furlough

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe returns to prison after three day furlough
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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sent back to prison Sunday after a three-day furlough.

The British-Iranian charity worker made an emotional last-minute plea to extend her leave from Iran's Evin prison, where's she's been serving more than two years out of a five-year sentence for spying against the Iranian regime -- charges she has vehemently denied.

Since her surprise release on Thursday, the 40-year-old mother spent three days with her family and young daughter, Gabriella, aged 4, in Tehran.

Ever since her arrest in April 2016, her family have maintained her innocence and continues to campaign tirelessly for her release.

In an interview with The Guardian, her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said his wife's return to prison was crushing, describing how she was "shivering, shaking and crying" when she was told by the deputy prosecutor that she'd be separated from her daughter again.

“This feels a dark world. I used to pray – but these past two years I’ve lost much of my faith. Who would take a child from their mother?” she said on the phone to her husband, before going back to prison.

After a visit with prosecutors on Sunday, Ratcliffe told The Guardian his wife was told her extension was approved due to good behaviour but later in the day, they reversed their decision, ordering her to return to Evin prison before sunset. The reason was due to a permit not being signed off, according to her husband.

“I was so happy yesterday walking in the street seeing normal life again, but I also envied the people in the street walking, holding their children’s hands. I just want a normal life,” she told her husband.

UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been lobbying for Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release since her furlough and said his talks with his Iranian counterpart " clearly wasn't enough."

After learning of her return to prison, Hunt tweeted on Sunday:

"Looks like Iranian legal system is impervious to the simple fact at the heart of this: an innocent woman is desperate to be reunited with her family. Spoke to Foreign Minister Zarif on [Friday] but that clearly wasn't enough. The fight goes on #FreeNazanin."

Background

Zaghari-Ratcliffe worked for Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charity arm of the media company. Before that, she worked for BBC Media Action, an international development charity. In March 2016, she travelled to Iran with her then 22-month-old daughter, Gabriella, to visit her family for Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

In April 2016, as she was about to board a flight back to the UK from the Tehran airport, she was approached by members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and arrested. Her daughter's passport was confiscated.

Iranian state media claimed Zaghari-Ratcliffe was involved with plans to overthrow the regime, allegations she has denied.

During this ordeal, her daughter remains under the care of Zaghari-Ratcliffe's parents in Tehran. Her husband, Richard, remains in their home in London and continues to campaign for his wife's release.

For a timeline of events leading to Zaghari-Ratcliffe's incarceration, check here.