Richard Ratcliffe's tireless fight to bring wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe back to Britain

Richard Ratcliffe and his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on holiday in Isfahan, Iran
Richard Ratcliffe pictured with his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on holiday in Isfahan, Iran

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe endured a near six year nightmare of his own as he fought tirelessly to bring his wife back to Britain.

Petitions, hunger strikes, vigils, protest marches and direct appeals to the UK and Iranian governments helped ensure Nazanin's name rarely slipped from the headlines.

Here are the key moments in Richard Ratcliffe's five-year fight to bring her home and how he never gave up.

  • May 19 2016 - Downing Street petition

Two weeks after Nazanine was detained in Iran, Richard delivered a petition of 500,000 names to Downing Street. At that point it was unclear why she was arrested and no charges had been brought. He said Nazanin had been visiting family when she was detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Richard Ratcliffe delivering a petition to Downing Street
  • May 24 2016 - lobbying of MEPs

Richard travels to Brussels with the son of another British citizen held in Iran since 2011 on charges of espionage. He tried to get the European Parliament to pressure Iran to release their relatives.

  • June 10 2016 - daughter's birthday

Richard sings Happy Birthday over the internet to the two year daughter he hadn't seen in months. The event attracted national media and kept the case in the headlines.

Richard Ratcliffe sings Happy Birthday to his daughter
  • July 12 2016 - another Downing Street petition

Richard Ratcliffe called for more "political noise" from the UK Government to help free Nazanin. He said it was "astonishing" no British minister had publicly criticised Tehran for arresting Nazanin. He delivered letters to Downing Street for the then outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron and his replacement Theresa May on his wife's 100th day in custody, urging them to do what they can to secure the release of his "political prisoner" spouse.

  • September 1 2016 - protest outside Iranian embassy

Families of UK-Iranian citizens languishing in Tehran's notorious Evin jail protest. Relatives and supporters gathered outside the Iranian Embassy in London.

  • September 21 2016 - direct plea to UK government

Richard claimed the government was keeping him in the dark despite the then Prime Minister Theresa May raising the case with the Iranian president in person. Richard Ratcliffe was in New York, where that meeting took place, trying to get answers.

Theresa May in face-to-face talks with Iranian authorities
  • December 19 2016 - Downing Street carols

Family, friends and supporters sang carols outside Downing Street, in the hope it would move the Prime Minister to help secure her freedom.

  • January 16 2017 - vigil at Iranian embassy

During a London vigil, Richard Ratcliffe delivered a letter to the Iranian ambassador in another attempt to secure her release.

  • April 2 2017 - one year anniversary

Ribbons were tied around a tree in a Hampstead park one year on from when Nazanin wen missing.

Richard Ratcliffe ties ribbons around tree branches
  • November 13 2017 - hopes of meeting with UK Foreign Secretary

Speaking to ITV News Richard Ratcliffe calls on the then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to allow him to accompany him on his forthcoming visit to Iran. He warned his wife was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, while the British government was accused of bungling the case.

  • November 15 2017 - Richard Ratcliffe attends play about plight of his wife

'Looking for Mummy' was a play based on Nazanin's detention in Iran. It was written and directed by Emi Howell.

  • November 15 2017 - meeting with Foreign Secretary

Also that day, after 18 months of trying to get his wife released from an Iranian jail, Richard was granted an hour with Boris Johnson. The meeting had been, he said, "positive and constructive".

  • November 25 2017 - protest march in north London

Nazanin spoke from jail to thank people who've been campaigning for her release. She spoke via a phone link to a rally near her home in North London, saying she was overwhelmed and moved by their support and love. Actor Emma Thompson was at the march.

Richard Ratcliffe at the protest in 2017
  • December 5 2017 - more Downing Street carols

Campaigners return to Downing Street performing a carol-singing vigil in support of her.

  • February 14 2018 - call for United Nations intervention

Supporters called on the United Nations to intervene over Nazanin's alleged torture. Campaigners claimed she had been subjected to psychological torture from "the whole armoury of the state". It was also claimed she spent eight-and-a-half months in solitary confinement while she was repeatedly threatened with having her daughter taken away. Supporters say this amounts to "psychological abuse", which meets the UN's criteria for torture.

  • February 21 2018 - letter to Iranian embassy

Richard Ratcliffe delivers letter to the Iranian embassy in London asking for a meeting with the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi.

  • March 10 2018 - new appeal to the Foreign Secretary

Renewed appeal to get the Foreign Secretary to help secure Nazanin's release and provide further updates on his wife's case. Richard and supporters of the family marked the number of days she'd been in jail on stones in Westminster to apply further pressure on Boris Johnson.

Richard marks jailed days with stones at protest
  • September 25 2018 - Richard meets Jeremy Hunt

Richard met the then Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in New York who said he was taking the case "very seriously". The Prime Minister also raised the situation with the Iranian President at the UN.

  • June 14 2019 - hunger strike

Richard sits outside the Iranian embassy united in a hunger strike with his wife who is doing the same in Iran. It came as authorities there said the West Hampstead mum would need to serve out her whole sentence. In the House of Commons some MPs wore badges showing their support for her.

  • January 23 2020 - more government talks

Richard Ratcliffe met Boris Johnson in Downing Street for talks earlier today calling on the British government to be tougher in its dealings with Iran.

  • March 8 2021 - vigil outside Iranian embassy

Protest outside the Iranian Embassy in London where Richard demands she be allowed to return home to her family.

Richard Ratcliffe protesting in 2021
  • September 23 2021 - petition and call for more honesty

Call for more honesty from the government as Richard marked 2,000 days since Nazanin was detained in Iran. He delivered a petition to Downing Street.

  • October 24 2021 - another hunger strike

Richard goes on hunger strike for the second time in two years outside the Foreign office in Whitehall, accusing the Government of "inaction and failure" over her case. The Foreign Office said it was doing all it could.

  • March 16 2022 - Richard's campaign ends as Nazanine returns home