A British diplomat captured the moment British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and dual national Anoosheh Ashoori flew out of Iran on Wednesday (March 16), ending an ordeal during which they became a bargaining chip in Iran’s talks with the West over its nuclear programme.
They arrived at the British military airbase of Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on Thursday (March 17), shortly after 1 a.m. local time, after flying back via a brief stopover in Oman.
“Relief and joy as we set off from Tehran,” British diplomat Stephanie Al-Qaq said in a tweet that contained pictures of Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ashoori smiling onboard a plane.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s protracted difficulties began with her arrest by Revolutionary Guards at Tehran airport on April 3, 2016, while trying to return to Britain with her then 22-month-old daughter Gabriella from an Iranian new year’s visit with her parents.
She was later convicted by an Iranian court of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment. Her family and the foundation denied the charge.
Ashoori was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2019 for spying for Israel’s Mossad and two years for “acquiring illegitimate wealth”, according to Iran’s judiciary.
(Production: Eleanor Whalley, Vin Shahrestani)