British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has returned to Iran's Evin prison after a three-day release period that ended Sunday. Her husband Richard Ratcliffe had been hopeful this would mark the beginning of the end of her ordeal.
"It's been a heck of a weekend really," he told Good Morning Europe on Monday. "We had obviously a very good few days, and then a bit of an uncertain Saturday. And then some terrible news. At the beginning of the day we thought it would be fine, then she was taken back in at the end of the day. The last I spoke to Nazanin was in the car on the way back to prison and she was just devastated. She had said goodbye to Gabriella, who was crying and wanted to know why she had to go back. Who knows how long it'll be for."
Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been imprisoned since September 2016. She was travelling to Iran to introduce her young daughter Gabriella to her family when she was arrested, charged and convicted of espionage. She denies all of the charges. Her husband has been campaigning ever since to secure her release.
"I was surprised it happened, I was elated on Friday," he said. "I was on all sorts of media talking about how hopeful we were. It's very unusual for it to only be three days- every other prisoner I heard of, it's always extended."
It was unclear why Iranian authorities decided to release Zaghari-Ratcliffe in the first place, but some speculated it may have been a conciliatory gesture during the Islamic festival of Eid. It was the first time she had seen her daughter in the two years since she was arrested- Gabriella's passport was seized when her mother was arrested, and she's stayed in Iran with family ever since.
UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has also been working to secure her release and celebrated her release on Friday.
"Frankly every day that she is in prison is a reminder to the whole world of a gross injustice," he said. "So we call on the Iranian authorities to capitalize on the goodwill from today’s announcement by going the whole way and releasing Nazanin and allowing her to go back to her family, come back to the UK which is where her home is and end this totally appalling injustice."
Richard Ratcliffe said he has not heard from the foreign ministry since his wife's return to prison.
"In terms of how hopeful I am, yeah I suppose it feels like I'm trying to make sense of things," said Ratcliffe. "My immediate worry is how she's coping back in prison and what she's making of it all."