Sept. 1, 2021

Free Nazanin, British Hostage in Iran | Pod Hostage Diplomacy

Free Nazanin, British Hostage in Iran | Pod Hostage Diplomacy

Two former UK Foreign Secretaries and the current UK Foreign Affairs Committee Chair have called Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British citizen and mother unjustly detained in Iran since 3 April 2016 – a hostage. Nazanin’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe talks to us about his campaign to free his wife and what we can do to help reunite his family.

We discuss how and why Nazanin was taken, the outstanding 400 million debt UK owes Iran, seeking help from the United Nations, deciding to go public, the FreeNazanin campaign, better protections for British citizens overseas, working with other hostage families, Magnitsky sanctions as well as what the public, politicians and news outlets can do to help bring Nazanin home.

If you prefer, you can watch the video version of this interview on YouTube.
For more information on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, please check out the following:

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Free Nazanin, British Hostage In Iran

[00:00:00] Daren Nair: Welcome to Pod Hostage Diplomacy. We work free hostages and the unjustly detained around the world. Together with their families, we share their stories every week and let you know how you can help bring them home. I'm Daren Nair and I've had the honour of campaigning with many of these families for years.

[00:00:24] These are some of the most courageous and resilient people among us. People who have never given up hope. People who will never stop working to reunite their families. And we will be right there by their side until their loved ones are back home. Thank you for joining us. And now, let's meet this week's guest..

[00:00:48] Welcome to Pod Hostage Diplomacy. On 3rd April, 2016, British citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was taken hostage by the Iranian regime while on her way, back to the UK with her one-year-old daughter at the time Gabriela. They were visiting parents in Tehran. Two former UK foreign secretaries, Jeremy Hunt, and Jack Straw, as well as the current Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament, Tom Tugendhat have all called Nazanin a hostage. The current foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said that it's difficult to argue against the characterization that she's a hostage. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is innocent.

[00:01:28] And is being used by the Iranian regime to extract concessions from the British government. This is the definition of hostage diplomacy. I'm joined today by Nazanin's husband, Richard Ratcliffe, who has been campaigning tirelessly these last five years to free his wife and bring her back home to London.

[00:01:45] I've been campaigning closely with Richard throughout this period, and I know him and his family very well. Richard, thank you for joining us. Thank you, 

[00:01:53] Richard Ratcliffe: Daren. Thanks for having us on today. 

[00:01:55] Daren Nair: The last time you saw Nazanin in person, was at Heathrow airport in London, in March, 2016, when you were saying goodbye to her. Nazanin and Gabriella were flying to Tehran to visit the grandparents, what happened next?

[00:02:09] Richard Ratcliffe: Uh, yeah, no, you're exactly right. A long time ago, nazanin went on holiday with Gabriella. Over that stage was, was one and three quarters, um, said goodbye to her at the airport for a normal family holiday. And indeed, that's what she had. She had a normal family holiday for a couple of weeks, um, seeing lots of relatives showing off her daughter and, um, my daughter's Seguin and, and all the things that the small children do.

[00:02:30] And as a mum and dad, as a dad, you take great pride in, um, and it was only at the airport on the way back that we realized there was, uh, anything different about this trip. Um, she got stopped at airport security, so that's at the check-in desk. They were waiting for. They said, listen, you need to come with us, answer some questions.

[00:02:48] There's a problem with your passport. Um, they, as it turned out were the Revolutionary Guard that we didn't know at the time., Um, and she was taken off with Gabriela, um, after about, I don't know, 20, 30 minutes of conversation. Um, she was asked to give Gabriella over to her grandparents who were there to say goodbye to um, Nazanin and Gabriella at the airport. Um, they were told to go back home, take the granddaughter with them.

[00:03:16] Um, Nazanin was going to be held for some questions about her passport and then they'd be in touch. So that's what they did. Um, you know, my father-in-law is a very calm man and, and, you know, decided not to provoke any antagonism or fight anything. And, uh, Nazanin essentially disappeared. Um, so the story is we lived, it was that after 24 hours, we'd heard nothing.

[00:03:41] Um, and in fact, I'd been quite calm at the beginning of the day.. And I was obviously in London waiting to go and pick her up from the airport. I got a phone call from the family to say, listen, she didn't catch the flight. Don't worry. Problem with the passport should be on a later flight. Don't go to the airport to pick her up.

[00:03:54] So I went back to sleep. It was early in the morning. Um, she, throughout the day I spoke to my in-laws, um, it was clear. They didn't know what was going on and obviously got more and more worried. The longer it went on, you know, Iran is the sort of place where you do get held at government offices and ask questions for a bit of time quite frequently.

[00:04:12] So it was quite normal at the beginning, um, I mean, at least we thought it was quite normal at the beginning. Um, but after 24 hours, we were getting really quite worried. Cause we hadn't heard anything. Her dad went back to the airport to try and find out what was going on and and you know went to airport security to ask where's my daughter, whose got her what's going on.

[00:04:31] No one would dare tell him anything. Like, you know, once they realize what the case was just completely quiet. Um, and I think when he came back completely, you know, we wouldn't, we weren't even told who's got her or why it was just bewildering. That's when, you know, the imagination started to run wild. And I remember really starting to, to, you know, to worry or to imagine um you pick up the tone of panic in my in-laws voices, as they started scrambling around, you know, anyone that got connections to the regime.

[00:05:03] So anyone neighbor or relative that knew someone that works in the Revolutionary Guard or in the security services to find out what on Earth's going on, um, and, and got told, you know, just keep it quiet. It'll just be, you know, it'll sort itself out. Don't worry. These kinds of very professional, all that kind of bullshit.

[00:05:18] Um, what, what actually happened? I think it was about three days in, she was allowed to telephone her mum. So she was allowed to telephone her mum, um, and tell her mum that, you know, she was alive, she was helping these people assume their inquiries. It was all fine. She's being well looked after. Um, and you know, she'd been given a good lunch being well fed she's been given a kebab.

[00:05:38] Um, and, and obviously that's partly genuine her just wanting to say, listen, mom, I'm okay. I'm still here. Um, and actually there was a great relief in the fact that she was still alive. Um, and in my imagination I've gone to some very dark places by then, um, but yeah, I think we, it took us a while to realize that there was always an interrogator standing next to her on all those calls.

[00:06:01] Um, and just that level of fear that, you know, even now, I probably don't really understand. Um, what, what happened essentially was that she was held. Was allowed, you know, these phone calls every so often, um, she was allowed to tell her parents that she was being released. She was allowed to tell me that she was being released or texted me and didn't I wasn't actually in at the time.

[00:06:20] Um, and then she wasn't released and there were all these games, what was going on. She got moved to Kerman, which is a miles and miles away, but we'd never been there before. As far as we knew, um, was held eventually it was revealed that she was being held in Kerman central prison. And after about three weeks, we were told it was the Revolutionary Guard that was holding her.

[00:06:38] Um, we. You know, I mean, at the beginning, just bewildered and shocked. And then I told her and her employer, she'd gone on and she'd gone on holiday, but she was due back at work on the Monday and hadn't turned up, um, and they were a lot more streetwise. So she works for Thomson Reuters Foundation, a charity, but they're pretty streetwise of people getting kidnapped because it's got the association with Reuters.

[00:07:01] So they brought me in and said, listen, you know, we've told our security people, you need to, you know, we've told the foreign office, you know, we didn't wait for you, um, and you need to do something. Um, and it took me a while of talking to lawyers, talking to other families, talking to Amnesty, talking to a number of smaller human rights groups to get my bearings about what to do.

[00:07:23] I, I, you know, haven't been involved in anything like this before. Um, you know, now I kind of wouldn't know what to do, but, but then it, you know, it was a kind of, almost like an out of body experience where. You don't, you know, this is sort of thing, something that you see happening to other people or in Hollywood plot lines.

[00:07:41] It's not, it's not something that really happens in the real world and really happens to people, you know? Um, and so I, at the beginning, I mean, even in the beginning, when we started deciding to go public and, and start campaign took about that month, um, I almost thought like we were just, you know, talking about how being unfairly imprisoned, talking about, like, I was using the words cause that's what I'd seen other campaigns do.

[00:08:03] And I, they had a petition and you know, it's not like I didn't quite feel that it necessarily was right for us, but just that's what, that's what the other kids do. So we'll do the same thing. Um, and, and so Nazanin was taken down to Kerman she was after we went public, was allowed her first family visit and family, got to see her.

[00:08:23] And I think they were really shocked. Um, you know, she'd essentially been kept in solitary for, um, forty days at that point. Um, couldn't stand up. Um, you know, so whether that's, you know, the stress or the debilitating physical consequences of not eating anything for however long. Um, so not formally a hunger strike, but just so distressed that, that she, you know, she'd lost her appetite.

[00:08:45] Um, but she had no strength at all and had to have Gabriella lifted onto her lap. Um, and, and I think, you know, for me, and I had met other families and talking, spoken to them about what people go through. Um, but that was for me when it felt real, like my goodness that, you know, she went perfectly healthy, um, in a perfectly normal mid thirties.

[00:09:08] And here we are someone that can't lift a baby, can't get off a seat. What have they done to her? Um, And when we went public, the consequences of her going public was that she got transferred back to Tehran, to Evin prison, which is the big prison in Iran where all the famous political cases are kept. Um, and when we got moved back there, the guys in Kerman were the ones that then started briefing that she was being involved in overthrowing the regime and just putting a lot of propaganda out basically to stop her being released.

[00:09:40] Um, she'd been told again and she was going to be released and they, they just didn't want that to happen. Um, so she got told all the time privately, now don't worry. It's just politics. You know um, wasn't very clear then probably I think it would have been in June, which would been two months into her being held.

[00:09:56] Listen, we're holding you to make um, pressure British government to make the agreement. Please tell your husband to tell the British government, um, which I did, um, without quite understanding at that stage, what we were really talking about. Um, and I told the Iranian government said, listen, you know, you need to let her go, but you also have to let her go free.

[00:10:11] You can't convict her of anything. And they acknowledged the, a message and said, listen, we'll check with Tehran what our instructions are, um, and then it went quiet, um, as she got convicted after about four months, um, for a five-year sentence. Um, and then, yeah, we, we, I mean, at that stage, I think, so she got convicted in September, finally, four months into her imprisonment.

[00:10:41] Um, at that stage she was still in solitary. Um, we. You know, I think we talked quite a lot about it being a theater, like it's, you know, in hostage cases that the criminal conviction isn't real. I mean, it is real because it's a real sentence with a judge that has the real power to put people in prison. Um, but it's not done to punish you.

[00:11:00] It's done to put pressure on, on a third party in our case the British government. Um, so you kind of think, okay, well, five years doesn't necessarily even mean five years. Um, and, and she was taken to court at exactly the same time as Homa Hoodfar, who was a Canadian. Who'd also been held in Evin for part of the time in the same cell as her.

[00:11:19] Um, so they've known each other quite well. And then they were expecting to be, I mean, they're been told we're holding you to make an agreement with um, the British government, that was when Homa Hoodfar was released and Homa Hoodfar was released a couple of weeks after that sentence. Um, and Nazanin wasn't, and Nazanin was you know this, now I've got a baby.

[00:11:38] Homa Hoodfar is a significant academic she's done stuff who I'm a nobody, why am I that that kind of disorientation and disbelief, um, took her to a very dark place. Um, and she was being told, you need to confess to this. You confess to that you, you know, we'll just film you and then you'll be able to go. And then you're able to see your daughter again and really manipulative stuff.

[00:12:00] Um, and that's when she got, you know, the first time she got really low, um, you know, I think probably the early days it was just terror, but the feeling of, of real depression, the darkness, and, you know, it would just be easy for me and for all my family if I just killed myself, um, you know, for her to be articulating that to herself and then, you know, increasingly to her family.

[00:12:22] Um, and that was the first hunger strike that she went on. Um, which also she said, listen, um, you know, she wrote me and wrote me a goodbye letter and then, um, went on hunger strike, um, And they clearly the, the Revolutionary Guard panicked at that point. Um, not least because she's, she was actually was a global asset, which was, you know, public name, et cetera.

[00:12:44] Um, so they didn't want her to die. So they sent her family and to, to plead with her, to, to break the hunger strike. Um, and actually it was her mother passed out when she saw her like day six long stroke, obviously looking very thin and fragile given all that happened before, um, her mother passed out and then obviously Gabriella got very traumatized and there was a big family fight and kerfuffle.

[00:13:04] And, um, you know, just started screaming, screaming, screaming, and it was just the sort of the impact on her daughter of seeing what was happening that she relented and she agreed to eat something. Um, and, and that I think was, was when we started to get a lot more. Um, abrasive really with the British government, um, and with the Iranian authorities, but particularly British government.

[00:13:29] Um, because at that stage, we then had it explained to us, um, what Nazanin was being held for, which was for a British government debt, there was a debt dispute. There is a debt dispute between Iran and the UK and some money dating back to the seventies that the UK has not ever returned to Iran. Um, and these guys were using it to get leverage.

[00:13:49] And they'd done that in a, in an American case before it had worked out. That's exactly why they picked up Nazanin and you know, her arrest, her messages to why we're holding you. And then the subsequent clarification, um, all fits the pattern of those negotiations that were happening over that debt, um, which at the time were all secret.

[00:14:08] So at that time there was a secret court case in London that would be, you know, arbitrating and discussing the debt, um, periodically, but, but no one was allowed access. Due to our story, getting such traction journalists went off and started digging around and then in the end, um, you know, sued there or applied to court to be able to have public public interest access and we've got it.

[00:14:32] Now, it came out in the open and in fairness down the line that the first time I went to see that debt court case is the last time that debt court case was held. And ever since I turned up, it's been postponed consistently. 

[00:14:44] Daren Nair: When you talk about the debt here, this is the 400 million pound debt 

[00:14:48] as a result of the UK, not delivering the Chieftain tanks bought by Iran during the Shah's rule, but then when the Shah was overthrown during the Islamic revolution in Iran, Britain did not pay that money back, even though they asked for it 

[00:15:05] Richard Ratcliffe: So that's the basic story. The basic story is some tanks were sold to Iran, uh, Iran paid an advance payment.

[00:15:13] Um, the contract got canceled. There was a, um, a discussion actually in the early days, they still wanted the tanks. Then later on, they wanted the money back. Um, there was a different process in the end, it went to court. There was a court battle. Iran eventually won that court battle about 15 years ago. Um, and by the time it won the court battle.

[00:15:32] Um, sanctions had been imposed on the Iranian Ministry of Defense who would be the body that would have the money paid back. So the UK said, well, we can't pay the money back because you are under sanctions. Um, now we got more complex because the Americans did pay the money back on a very comparable deal they had, which was for not for tanks but for planes.

[00:15:51] Um, and of course with the JCPOA the nuclear deal that was signed, there was the expectation that all these sanctions would be lifted. Um, there was probably a little bit of internal politics within Iran between one faction saying, listen, we can get the money this way, rather than, you know, you waiting, how many years was the sanctions to be lifted.

[00:16:07] Um, and the UK now of course, is in an interesting position legally in that, um, the sanctions that were governing that money are European sanctions, um, the UK does not have to follow European sanctions now because they're no longer part of the EU. Um, it's voluntarily brought in all the EU sanctions to make them UK sanctions.

[00:16:29] So it's the UK choice to make it sanctioned. Um, and, and in fairness, if you look at what the media. Briefing is today. It's not, um, the UK or the EU sanctions are blocking, but they talk about US sanctions. Um, and, and US sanctions, because, you know, obviously there are lots of us sanctions on Iran. Um, I have to say I've challenged the government behind closed doors, a number of times, um, in the, I can't see how on Earth US sanctions, um, are causing, uh, are an impediment to payment.

[00:17:01] So all that's to say is there's, there's a backstory. There is a there's, you know, there's a backstory as to how we ended up here. And then there are different stories given to the public, into ourselves as part of the public explaining why things can't move forward. Um, and those stories tend not to stand up particularly well.

[00:17:18] Um, when you scrutinize them legally, it makes complete sense politically, why there is a reluctance to pay the debt in the context of, of Nazanin being held hostage, because there is a whole discussion about, you know, do we, how do we, how do we disincentivize hostage taking, um, and. if you think the UK's approach. Once that link became really clear, which was 2016.

[00:17:39] So the last five years the UK's is approach for the first three or four years was to deny the link. Um, and then to, to downplay anything they could do. Um, so to insist on this, we can't move because the sanctions we'd obviously love to, um, probably that's changed in the last year. 

[00:17:57] Um, but, but yeah, the, the fact remains that, you know, we were a bargaining chip in a very straightforward transaction that was denied for a long time. Um, and part of the reason, or part of the way in which it was denied has made things more complicated for Nazanin . 

[00:18:18] Daren Nair: Just to clarify from what I'm understanding here is that Nazanin did nothing wrong.

[00:18:24] She's a British Iranian dual-national. She went to Iran to visit her parents with your daughter. Gabriela, she's been to Iran many times before, this time she was detained because the Iranian government wants Britain to repay a 40 year old debt.

[00:18:44] A debt, that was older than Nazanin herself. The deal was made before Nazanin was born. The deal was, 

[00:18:50] Richard Ratcliffe: was made before Nazanin was, was born. I think it's fair to say the decision not to repay the money was made, perhaps nothing Nazanin might've just been born, but it, it was, you know, it's, it's older than her.

[00:19:00] Um, and yeah, that's exactly right. Um, you know, when Nazanin was picked up, she was picked up as part of a wave of people. Uh, who were detained in 2016 in the early nuclear agreement. Um, and that's probably partly external politics in picking people up to use them for, uh, you know, international negotiations.

[00:19:22] And it's partly internal politics, which is to scare the Iranian diaspora and to say, listen, just cause we've got some fancy new deal. Don't think the old rules don't apply, we're still in charge. Um, and if you look at the profile of people that were picked up, um, Nazanin is fairly typical, um, they're by and large, those who have foreign links who their life is overseas.

[00:19:42] Um, there may be work for a Western organization normally in a sector, whether it's environment or charity work or, uh, media, um, or art galleries and cultural stuff as well. Um, where, you know, from a sort of a hard-line Revolutionary Guard perspective, they're a threat and they are threat to a loss of control.

[00:20:00] So, um, she had been to Iran many times with Gabriella and four times as Gabriella and many times before Gabriella was born. Um, and, and it was all perfectly safe. The circumstances changed whereby they were looking for someone, um, and she was the unlucky person. And, you know, if I look since we've been following it closely, we've obviously since the past five years been following, what happens between Britain and Iran very closely.

[00:20:23] There have been unlucky times to travel to Iran when more people get picked up. Um, and there's normally a profile where by the Revolutionary Guard can build a story. Um, but, but you would just, the unlucky schmuck that traveled then. And who gets, you know, the jigsaw is built around you. Um, and it it's nothing, it's not personal, nothing to do with anything.

[00:20:43] She said she did, um, nothing that she can stop doing it. It's, it's just, um, she is the bargaining chip. 

[00:20:51] Daren Nair: Can you tell us a bit about Nazanin cause you mentioned they take people with a specific background or profile. So can you just give us a brief history of Nazanin? I know she was born in Iran. What was her education background?

[00:21:04] What kind of field did she work in?? 

[00:21:07] Richard Ratcliffe: So Nazanin, was born in Iran, grew up in Iran, um, studied English literature, first degree, um, worked afterwards initially as an English teacher then as an interpreter and there was a Bam earthquake a big earthquake in Iran back in 2003, I think. Um, she went down and she was an interpreter there.

[00:21:25] I forgot for different, um, relief agencies then went to work for the Red Cross and then the World Health Organization. Um, and then came over to Britain, uh, to study, to, to do a Masters. Um, we met at that point, um, started dating, fell in love. Um, got married, um, two years after that. Um, that's 2009 and first time, um, and, and.

[00:21:51] Yeah. So then over here she's worked for different charities. Um, the two, the current one is the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The one before that, that was, um, in those days called BBC World Service Trust. It's now called BBC Media Action. Um, in both of them are essentially charities that that would help strengthen journalism.

[00:22:12] Um, so provided journalism training. Um, you know, she's not a journalist by background. Um, so her role would have been project manager really, or project assistant at the beginning then, then project manager. Um, and yeah, she, she did that. I mean, I think really. Really pleased to be. I mean, I remember her being really excited to come up to London and, you know, just be in a big city where you didn't have to wear a head scarf, you could, um, you know, just see the world in a more relaxed way.

[00:22:42] It didn't have all the restrictions. I mean, it, you know, being Iranian is hard. There were a lot of restrictions internally, and it's a really hard passport to travel anywhere with because it's such a pariah country. Um, and you know, I mean, I remember we would queue up for visas and, you know, regularly you'd see people, um, you know, either not be given a visa and told to come back when we regular have to get them last minute or you come back and you find the visa you've been given is out of date.

[00:23:06] And there was a, a whole ruse being played administratively to, you know, not refuse but not give. Um, so yeah, I, I, I mean, she was like, like many moms. I mean, her life was transformed by Gabriella. Um, Really reoriented in terms of just being so proud of, of, of her daughter and watching her daughter grow up, um, you know, what you could do and, you know, really, you know, probably before Gabriella was born, she had gone back to Iran every year.

[00:23:37] Um, but once Gabriella it was so much more important to sort of go back and show mom, particularly because it's hard for the family to come over here. Um, and, and so, yeah, I think it, you know, many Iranians will learn quite carefully, um, where the red lines are. So what you don't do, if you want to be able to go, uh, you know, to visit your family, um, so then avoid politics and avoid human rights work and avoid lots of things.

[00:24:05] And you know, Nazanin, would have been certainly with someone who firmly felt she was not doing anything political, so it would have been nothing to jeopardize, be able to come visit mum and granny. Um, and so a complete shock. Um, and certainly when it all happened, Inside the interrogation room just as outside, uh, you know, she was clearly felt it was a mistake and they just needed to understand that she did nothing wrong.

[00:24:30] You've got the wrong person. Um, and that's a really common experience we all go through and I see it with lots of other families where we all just think the innocence should protect us. Um, and it, and it's largely irrelevant. I mean, it's, it's a profiling process. They could say, listen, you've got Reuters in your job title.

[00:24:48] You've got BBC in a previous job title. That'll do us. And we can build the rest of the story, I'm going to say the tons of which they've accused me of being a British spy, or accuse my dad of, being British spy like, there's a, this is a playbook that just gets played. Um, and if the facts don't fit it, they'll just bend the facts a bit.

[00:25:05] Um, but it, you know, the story that gets told about someone being a big spy, you know, it's only really to be eye-catching in order to, to drive, um, what is essentially a business deal and a business of hostage-taking. 

[00:25:18] Daren Nair: United Nations working group on arbitrary detention has stated that Nazanin's detention is arbitrary, meaning she's being unjustly detained.

[00:25:28] What were the charges that they, sentence her to prison for? 

[00:25:33] Richard Ratcliffe: Yeah, so, so they, they put Nazanin through two court processes one once and one has been sort of a yo-yo process which is now finally finished and it completely, almost completely secret the first time around.

[00:25:48] So the first time round, when she got convicted of a five-year sentence, she wasn't allowed to tell me what she'd been convicted of, and we will have to tell the public, she wasn't. Uh, uh, you know, it was never officially disclosed to us, so she was never given it in writing while she was in the court. Um, so she's got a five-year sentence, which at the time, the only relevant point was that it was, you know, um, the national security charges, um, which, you know, essentially is the same broad spaces, uh, um, of being a spy, um, she was accused formally, um, first time round, as we understand it now of membership of organizations, uh, against the regime, um, meaning that, you know, she once worked for Reuters and once worked for the BBC, um, charity arms, and the most recent one, which is the same evidence.

[00:26:35] Um, and it's all the same stuff that was in the first trial. Um, but she was given a second conviction at the end of her first sentence, uh, to keep it going. Um, and the charge formally was spreading propaganda against the regime. Um, but I spent a lot of time with journalists saying well what, you know, what did she do?

[00:26:53] You know, honestly, it's irrelevant. Like it it's. What she did was she went there and she once, worked for BBC Media Action. She currently works for Thomson Reuters foundation. And that's enough. That's all that matters. It's not, there's no, there's not doing anything. It's just about here. We're signaling. We can hold it for as long as possible.

[00:27:11] Um, now you're right. We got the UN to rule on the first case, uh, first sentence, that, that Nazanin was arbitrarily detained. Um, and we submitted that actually, even before she'd been sentenced, they ruled after. Um, and so that means under international law, uh, her sentences, you know, is illegal wrongful, um, and she should be released.

[00:27:32] Um, and we've just put in a new submission for the second sentence. So she got convicted second time round again in April. So five months ago, um, I don't know quite how long it'll take them to rule on it, but I, I. You know, essentially we put in that submission at the beginning, partly because, I mean, you, you don't know who to turn to.

[00:27:56] Um, and, and so when your loved one is taken, you obviously turn to your own government and asked them for help. Um, I guess the British government, you turn to the foreign government, that's detaining her, and say, listen, what's going on. And so, um, but the UN is somewhere else that you can go to and it's actually somewhere that other families had done.

[00:28:14] So that's why we put the application in to get the UN, to look at it as a tool of pressure. And then also to get that ruling. We did it quite early and we did it, you know, when we did it, it was essentially saying this is all unfair. It wasn't particularly sophisticated, um, appeal we made. We're now five years on from that first application so much has happened to Nazanin.

[00:28:36] And, and there's a, there's a way in which, in hostage case, a lot of, I mean, there's the unfairness of imprisonment, but, but arbitrary detention in which, you know, most arbitrary detentions are personal. People have been put in prison unfairly because they are annoying human rights activists or their political opposition, or they are disliked by the ruling regime.

[00:28:55] It's different when it's a leverage case, like ours option and triple leverage where you're being put in prison, not personally, but in order to put pressure on someone else. Um, and what that means is, is, you know, we get. Our circumstances, get squeezed, get eased. We get punished. We get, you know, have the offer of, of extra sentence, the offer of, of release almost simultaneously to signal different things in a negotiation, which you know, is, is either literally happening or is implicitly in the woodwork.

[00:29:27] And then they're looking so as the Iranian authorities have tried to get their money back and have tried different ways to pressure the British government in the buildup to a court case, we've often had the revival of, you know, more sentencing for Nazanin. Um, afterwards we can also have, you know, the potential of Nazanin to be released on medical grounds or be released on furlough or, you know, potential for clemency.

[00:29:51] All sorts of things will be signaled to say, listen, you could have, you know, the red pill, you could go this way and you can have it all happily, or we can have, you know, the blue and that kind of dynamic where. You know, hostage case is different from a normal, unfair imprisonment like. The same one's Amnesty deal with most of them because of normal, unfair imprisonment, it's kind of a two party relationship.

[00:30:11] You've got the prisoner and you've got the imprisoning authority with a hostage case. It's a three-party relationship. You've got the prisoner to imprisoning authority and the person that they're on the body they're trying to pressure on. And actually you, as the victim are pushing the people who put you in prison, but you're also pushing the people that are ignoring it.

[00:30:30] Um, one of the great consistent dynamics you get, um, in the government is that you have a government. In our case Iran who will take, takes you take a hostage and then every so often squeeze them for effect and, you know, produce effect. And you'll have a second government who is the one that's being pressured to do something that will have an incentive to downplay what's happening to ignore what's happening to kind of minimize it because they don't want to be pressured.

[00:30:58] They don't want to give up in this case, the money, other cases, and that kind of caught in between, you know, it means why you know, a significant part of my resentment in this, and then see what part of that campaigning is often about the gaslighting of the British government and the fact that they are downplaying.

[00:31:16] Um, what's going the fact that, that, you know, I mean, even to the States and, and you're right your intro, um, they have not. So a serving foreign secretary has never said unambiguously Nazanin is a hostage, former foreign secretaries, when they're no longer in office have said it. And you know, the current Foreign Secretary behind closed doors, happy to acknowledge it because of course she is, but, but is he allowed to say it in public?

[00:31:40] You know, the closest he came is to say, I would not disagree with that characterization. Well, the lawyers will be happy with that because they can still say, well, okay, that's not him agreeing, it's just not disagreeing. Um, and that I find as part of a very consistent pattern at the British government, as where there were lots of ways in which it will try and deflect, um, downplay at the beginning, it was downplaying the abuse.

[00:32:00] It doesn't downplay the abuse so much now, but it will try and deflect its own. failure to solve it. Um, you know, so an awful lot of work goes into blaming dual nationality in, in our case say, well, you know, what Ministers say in Parliament. The thing is Nazanin's case is complicated because she's a dual national, which of course is painted nonsense.

[00:32:19] I mean, you know, there's a little bit of complication around going to visit her if she's a dual national. Um, but the, you know, it makes no difference in hostage terms. Know she is being held cause she's got a British passport. Then when she could have got 12 other passports but that doesn't matter, the British one is the one that matters for the Iranian authorities.

[00:32:34] Um, and it's very disingenuous partly to say, listen, it's a way of downplaying. Partly also to create a kind of a hierarchy of citizenships, which is something that, you know, is emerging in other, we can see in Afghanistan, other spheres of, of foreign policy. Um, and I think that that when I used to get very offended by it, very upset about it, but, but in some ways it's not again it's not personal right.

[00:32:59] The British state, British government has an interest in protecting its own interests, which are to downplay and not be pressured by, uh, by the, by the Iranian authorities. Um, and you know, a hostage has a different set of interests from either of the two governments. Um, in, in, in this case. So part of why we did, and that's a very long way of saying part of why we put the new submission in to the UN was to make that really clear because I don't think the UN quite gets it in that sense that what you've got is a different set of risks.

[00:33:30] Different set of human rights, risks. Cause you've got one government who, if they're being ignored will squeeze again and, um, you know, not gratuitously, but enough to get noticed, one government will be busy downplaying it, and you've got a system that's kind of presumes the good faith of, you know, most governments, maybe not, you know, you'll have some occasional bad actors or bad apples, but you know, the human rights system is, is works on the presumption that different states, or can all cooperate together to try and improve human rights.

[00:33:59] It completely falls apart where both states have an interest in pretending that the grass is not green. 

[00:34:07] Daren Nair: So you make a very good point there about dual nationality and the use of the term hostage. So. The Americans do things differently. I've seen the American secretary of state, use the term hostage when, referring to American citizens, held in Iran.

[00:34:25] Even though. The current American citizens held in Iran, Siamak and Baquer Namazi. Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz. They are dual nationals or have three citizenships, including Iranian citizenship and American citizenship, but not once. Have I heard them refer to these individuals as dual nationals, they call them Americans as long as they have an American passport.

[00:34:48] That's what matters. They are American. They are one of them. However, in Britain, it's different. You have to lobby the foreign office to call her a British citizen. Uh, could you just talk about the difference and why you think that's in place and what you've been doing to get the British government to do better?

[00:35:07] Richard Ratcliffe: Yeah, it's a, it's a really interesting area. Um, and it's true. Um, I think American citizenship, US citizenship is unambiguous. Um, you know, it probably comes partly from US history that, that it's a, it's a nation where people came to and, you know, would have come from somewhere else, historically most cases, um, and then took on a new identity and it's, it's a melting pot of a new identity.

[00:35:31] Um, and so there is kind of, uh, you know, uh, I mean, even having a green card. Yeah, right. Like you're not even a full citizen, but you're on the road to a higher plane, which is your citizenship. So they do take US citizenship very seriously and protect you Americans. Um, and that's, you know, popularly definitely seen as part of the government's job.

[00:35:51] Um, and they've got all sorts of structures, um, like a presidential Envoy, a, Fusion Cell, various things that are set up to bring Americans home. Um, and, and, uh, and the UK doesn't have that. Um, you know, there's obviously, um, That's sort of a dog whistle dynamic to, to dual nationality in the way it's talked about.

[00:36:11] Um, you know, and there's a real British and a brown British essentially is, is, what's been articulated. Um, and, and you see that in lots of the sort of commentary on Nazanin's cases to, you know, well, you know, it's almost like she's a foreign girl, that's brought this problem to our doorsteps. Um, and yeah, I mean, even today's Twitter, I was just looking through it.

[00:36:31] Um, I think, I mean, if I'm honest, you know, the way in which. consular law works the way in which sort of, you know, your rights as a British citizen overseas and how the government relates to them. Um, it's not really an area of citizenship at all, actually we're subjects. So the British state has interest has rights in consular services, British students.

[00:36:57] Don't only if the government chooses to, to, to help out. Um, and, and it's probably an area where we're still kind of stuck in the 19th century or the 18th century really the, you know, the better connected you are the the more, the government will help out in our case. I mean, I'm white middle class and I get on the news quite a lot.

[00:37:17] Um, we get more help than, than others do. Um, and that will be true amongst the other Iran hostage cases. That will be true amongst the other British citizens held overseas cases that some of which aren't hostages, but just the sort of classic in prison, the government didn't like them, um, unfairly.

[00:37:36] And, but we get more attention partly because we're less foreign looking, um, as a family. Um, and I, and I, and I do think it's an area that, you know, obviously British citizenship at this point is in its own special place with Brexit and working out the UK is placed in a role and the world. And, um, you know, in some ways Afghanistan is showing this in many, much, much bigger sense than that.

[00:38:02] There are going to be, you know, hundreds of Brits left in Afghanistan who happened to be British Afghan. Um, And, you know, the government very proud of the same. We brought back all the mono nationals or the white Brits. It's just, uh, you know, the locals kind of British, but are they really, um, and, and there's partly a cultural difference there's partly or such as to sort of as much of a tactical it's about the way in which, you know, the government as any government does deflect its poor performance downplays its it's, you know, its failures do something and gives a story that the newspapers will buy and the public will buy.

[00:38:39] And uh, and so I do think one of the great problems, the UK has, um, is that we've got, you know, the government has no obligation to protect at all. It's entirely discretionary. Um, which means if you happen to know the foreign secretary, you've got a chance to be protected and we get relatively pretty well protected.

[00:39:05] So if you look. Everyone in Evin prison. And the guards used to say to, to other women prisoners when they come in and they'll make a demand, listen, who do you think you are, you're not Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe fuck off. No, that was a reflection of the fact that actually we could make noise and because we could make noise, we would get listened to by important people.

[00:39:25] And because we get listened to by important people, they would talk to their Iranian counterparts and there were boundaries as to what could happen to us. And that's a really labor-intensive unfair and regressive system, because what that means is it's those with good connections that, that, that get protected, um, which is the opposite of citizenship.

[00:39:45] You know, it's, it's kind of where we were pre-citizenship when we were talking about like, you know, um, we were all subjects and we were so far up the list, but we're not, you know, we've spent six years in prison almost. Um, that's a reflection of us not being important enough fundamentally to solve it.

[00:40:02] Otherwise I wouldn't be here talking to you. It would all be done. 

[00:40:06] Daren Nair: So to remediate this problem, or at least to shine a light on it. You've, co-founded the British rights abroad group with the families of other British citizens, unjustly held overseas or held hostage overseas. Could you give us a brief description on what it's about?

[00:40:22] Richard Ratcliffe: Yeah, so that's right. So we founded it a couple of years back and in some ways it's probably a battle for when Nazanin's home properly. Um, I think that's when we've got the bandwidth, but. It's exactly set up. So it was a number of founders. Um, who'd been, um, unfairly imprisoned overseas, um, and had turned to foreign office and got frustrated with, with the foreign office's approach to solving those cases.

[00:40:48] Um, and in all those cases, the Foreign Office's approach was reasonably consistent. Um, it was to, um, look for a diplomatic solution to go very soft. Um, not to challenge the unfairness of imprisonment, but essentially to ask for a favor from the other governments, say listen, can you, that I want to go. Um, and yeah, probably use some of the things that were said by the parties.

[00:41:11] So, you know, if the family point out how unfair it is, the government will use that, but they're not going to say it themselves then really, you know, show and share. I mean, that's not a great diplomatic way. Um, and, and of course, What that means is the, government is not actually protecting. Um, it's just managing a situation, um, with open eyes and, and a conscience, but it's, it's managing a situation.

[00:41:32] So we, you know, quite a few families come out quite bitter that, that they've been put through this profoundly unfair experience. And they just, you know, they'd read that passport where it talks about Her Majesty's Britannic government requires and requests requests and requires the authorities to, to help this passport holder.

[00:41:50] And you realise it's nonsense, which didn't require anything. Um, so we set, we set it up and, um, what it's been doing is, is calling for a right to consular protection. So saying, listen, there should be a framework here. There should be something that says, this is what the government will do for you.

[00:42:09] If you're a British citizen, And you were unfairly taken under these circumstances. Um, and, and that's the only way to make it fair. Now it obviously it's a bit tricky in different circumstances. Um, you know, some places we don't have an embassy makes it harder. It'll be hard right now in Afghanistan, for example. Um, but you could still have a set of principles and rules that, that then you need to get translated.

[00:42:29] Um, interestingly it's taken and it will continue to take, uh, quite a, uh, piece of work to persuade people to realize there's a problem. Um, so we'd launched that campaign 18 months ago and longer, um, got a bit of fanfare and then it sort of faded away last Christmas. So a year later, um, we did a piece in The Times saying, listen, you've got no right.

[00:42:55] And the British government has no obligation to protect you if you're tortured or unfairly imprisoned, that was on the front page of the times. Big noise really came across. Was it coincided with the new blue passports coming out so well, that, that actually is something that had been a law for many, many years, but still most people were shocked.

[00:43:11] Um, I wouldn't wish for three days ago, Dominic Raab said, listen, um, you know, we've got mono nationals home, but you know, it's just the dual nationals left and people were shocked by that. And so there was a way in which things that, that are a core part of our story and a core part of any storyline line like ours, and not being noticed more broadly.

[00:43:31] Um, and there is a job to do, I think, both for the public, but also say for MPs and for those that actually make the laws to get them to realize there's a problem. Um, and that I think is a difference. Say back to your point about the U S so in the U S the government, everyone views, it's the government's job to protect Americans, um, in, in, in the UK.

[00:43:54] I think, I think the government has done a good job of making it seem like it'll help out. You know, they'll help me out and get my wife home, but fundamentally it's, you know, it's our problem as a family to solve. Um, and you know, behind closed doors, I've put it really bluntly to them and yeah, fundamentally, you know, even when you're being held hostage over British government debt, that's formally not the government's problem, which is just extraordinary that they can get away with as a country and trick.

[00:44:20] And it's just extraordinary. 

[00:44:22] Daren Nair: No, I absolutely agree with you. The one thing I have noticed is because like you said, the British government, their lack of sufficient action has made the families have to do so much more.

[00:44:33] And one thing I hear from many professional campaigners and NGOs is that you are phenomenal campaigner, the free Nazanin campaign. Has been amazing. You've been able to get, media attention from all around the world, not just in the UK. I remember for instance, during the hunger strike, members of parliament from almost every party came to visit you

[00:44:58] I've known you for five years. I know you work as an auditor in a professional services firm. You're not a campaigner. Can you. Talk to us about deciding to go public because you and I have campaigned with many hostage families. And the one thing they hesitate to do is to go public and the foreign office and the state department and the foreign ministry, irrespective of the countries always tell them it's easier to solve this.

[00:45:25] If you keep it quiet. If we have these private conversations. So don't go to the media, keep quiet, let us do our jobs. And after a few years, or few months, almost all the hostage families, I speak to say the same thing. If they could do this all over again, they would go to the media immediately.

[00:45:46] So can you talk to us about the free Nazanin campaign? How you decided to launch such an effective campaign. 

[00:45:53] Richard Ratcliffe: I think that's exactly right. That, I mean, I remember even when we were not public, we were quiet. Um, and we were quiet for about a month. Um, I spoke to four families and all of them, um, and they were quite different families.

[00:46:08] I mean, quite in terms of the temperament of what they did, but all of them said, listen, it's a really tricky decision, but in my case, I wish I'd gone public. I wish we'd gone public earlier. So I remember that being a message that came through to me that actually most people, you know, in the end, if they had their time over would have pushed a bit harder earlier.

[00:46:29] And I don't think there's any. I mean, it's interesting. Cause you know, we're still unsuccessful and I like it and I don't think we should be sitting here with our laurels saying what a great campaign we've run because you know, we're not, we're not supposed to be running a campaign. We're supposed to be getting her home.

[00:46:43] Um, we haven't managed it and, and it's probably gone through different phases. So the way we campaigned at the beginning is different from how we do it now. And you know, there's somethings we don't do as well. Now that we, we did do at the beginning. Um, but I do think you're right, that at the very beginning, all families spend a long time, being very anxious about whether to go public.

[00:47:06] And actually the question is, is how to go public. You know, it's not simply that you just call up the times and say, can you put me on the front page? Um, you know, it doesn't work like that. And actually all of us when we do go public, but frustrated by how the news moves on and it does other stuff and we don't get the attention.

[00:47:24] And um, you know, why do you. Have fun. I'm going to be wanting to be on television on the story before me, which they went on for ages about was that it was a sausage roll in a manger. Why is this news like, no. And, and other stories that were more important just got cut. I mean, at least, I got on the tele that day um, I think like what, what advice would I give to people that you kind of need, you need to get people to care.

[00:47:56] Um, so you have to be genuine and straightforward and be yourself and make the mistakes that people do, um, that people can feel honesty. Um, and, and you know, it is true that, you know, one injustice is a tragedy, many injustices are a statistic. Um, and there is something about opening up your life and being.

[00:48:23] You know, allowing people to connect to the person that Nazanin is the person that I am that, um, you, which doesn't come naturally to any of us, really? Um, no, it, I remember it being very tough, seeing myself and the family pictures up on the news, um, you know, on screens when I was walking past at the station and stuff, and I don't, for a long time, I would still be brought it to, to, I don't watch it back.

[00:48:47] I keep it small. I just do interviews and move on. Um, and that's because, you know, we're, we're all naturally a bit shy and, and, you know, unsure of things. Um, and, and I think we, I don't know if it's true. We, at the beginning, I remember thinking that that what we're trying to do. Is, it's two things. One to get as many people care as possible than to, to expand the circle of people that know our story and care of our story, and think it's wrong.

[00:49:14] Um, and, and, and partly just to find different ways of doing that, um, cause if enough people care, then the right people will care enough. Um, this is a basic rule of thumb that is true for all campaigning. Um, and then, uh, you know, any hostage case is complicated because at the end of the day, you're being held by some obscure guys that have got A) a worldview whereby this is justifiable, um, and B) a fairly, um, alienated framework of morality whereby they can do horrible rough stuff.

[00:49:49] Um, and so you're always, you know, trying to push the boundaries. To be provocative enough to get attention, to, to learn, to be streetwise enough that actually everyone else hasn't got your family's back in quite the same way. They'll be those who are quite well aligned human rights groups, or as journalists, but they're still slightly different.

[00:50:11] And then you've got those like governments, who've got their own backs, um, and you know, certainly mean no harm to come to you, but they've got other, other priorities they need to deliver on. Um, and so learning to be fairly thick skinned in some ways. And it just like, I, I don't mind if I piss off the British government.

[00:50:31] I don't mind if I piss off the Iranian government and if I'm not pissing them off, I'm not doing my job. Um, you know, because it, if sympathy was going to get Nazanin home, she would have been home years ago. Um, it also needs to, you know, our campaign has always been trying to. To talk to the interests of those holding.

[00:50:54] And that's where it gets tricky because ultimately I can campaign and I can put pressure on British government. I can campaign and I can put pressure on the Iranian government and it's different to do it in different ways. And putting pressure on the British government can actually do something that emboldens the Iranian government.

[00:51:12] Um, equally put pressure on the Iranian government, I'm going to be something that, you know, takes it away from, from where it might, you know, the British government feeling through the squeeze. Um, and, and actually also there's a dynamic. Remember we're thinking like, so we would start off putting pressure on the British government to get them to put pressure on the Iranian government, to get them to put pressure on the guys who were actually holding Nazanin.

[00:51:30] And you've got this sort of like a chain that you're, you're not, you're not talking directly, but you have to go through three or four levels of intermediary, which just creates Chinese whispers, um, and, and things getting lost and diffused and so on. I remember thinking that I would end up trying being as clear as possible.

[00:51:47] So when you talk about the hunger strike, um, that was a really clear statement. Like it's really simple. There's no ambiguity, no subtlety in it whatsoever. It's just sitting on the pavement. Um, yes, signaling outrage, signaling and discontent. Um, other stuff happened around it, so to can make it sort of more, you know, but most that we didn't organise, I suppose, that's luck and people coming in and caring.

[00:52:08] Um, and in terms of, I mean, I dunno, like I don't, we're not a successful campaign in that sense like I've spoken to families where, you know, they did their initial sprinting and it worked and, you know, 18 months later Jason's home, um, I've spoken to other families where, you know, they didn't do any campaigning, kept still quiet and their home.

[00:52:33] Um, and similarly, You know, that has worked out for them and we all, we're all prisoners of our own experience now that we all, we're all extrapolating from a sample of one in this. So, so you do need to be humbled, but actually none of us know what, what we are. We know what's happened in our case, but we don't know what's the right way of doing things.

[00:52:54] There isn't a ministers where actually, your podcast is, it is a very valuable thing. There is not the body of knowledge out there where you can look and compare and say, listen, this is what works. This is what doesn't you can, we we've got our instincts. We've all got my instincts are obviously to make this a problem that becomes unignorable and others will solve it.

[00:53:10] Um, and, and, you know, to assume that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are normal human beings, and they understand that taking the mother and the baby hostage is not acceptable. Um, and they do understand that and you know, all this sort of claptrap about how we have to keep quiet and really be sensitive to them.

[00:53:25] And, you know, they must save face is nonsense. That's not how hostage taking works at all it's a business like any other business. It has. It's, you know, it's, it's clear. Logic of commercially what it's trying to achieve and it's going to want to minimize its costs. And, you know, part of our job is to increase the costs as well as to not close off the path to having this solved.

[00:53:46] Daren Nair: Yes. So the cruelty is a feature, not a bug it's intentional. They want to be cruel to Nazanin in the way they treat her, , to upset you more and to make you go to the media, and to get more people outraged, to speed up the process, to get the British government to react. 

[00:54:03] Richard Ratcliffe: I think that's right. I think there's, um, understanding the rules of the game helps them all one does.

[00:54:11] Um, and it, you know, it's, it's conspicuous cruelty rather than deliberate cruelty, not at the beginning when Nazanin was in interrogation, that was probably just sort of standard. Interrogator cruelty, which is, is, is just, you know, anyone that goes there is is broken down and abused in horrible ways, um, because that's how they break people, um, but, that phase was actually finished fairly quickly in our case.

[00:54:36] It's the first few months, um, what we've been in ever since is a much more kind of public cruelty that's done. To put pressure on British government and it is trying to leverage our campaign. Um, and, and you're right, that, that then creates an interesting tension, obviously a tension between us and the government.

[00:54:55] So we'll go out and make lots of noise to come up, and they'll resent it. Um, but also an interesting tension where, you know, I don't, it's not my job to, to be pressuring the British government and for the Iranian authorities to get out the popcorn and watch it. But my job is, is to pressure them. Um, and I have to do it this sort of convoluted way where it's pressure, the British government pressure them.

[00:55:16] But, but nonetheless, um, uh,I do have to be quite mindful of the fact that it's really important that they don't complacently, um, squeeze Nazanin, wait for me to react pressure the British government, that, that that's their business model and it may not be the business model if you stay quiet, but it's the business model if you're public.

[00:55:35] Um, so, so one of the things we've done increasingly in the last 18 months, two years is to be much more critical of the Iranian authorities for their hostage taking to push the British government more, much more clearly to call it hostage, taking, and also for there to be accountability for it. And that means that things like Magnitsky sanctions.

[00:55:54] Um, and so to be, you know, I mean, there's lots of sort of preparing behind the scenes and talking through stuff, but, but in short, what, um, you know, One of the key problems in the diplomatic approach to dealing with hostage taking state hostage taking is that there is no cost for the hostage taker. Um, I mean, you know, there's some embarrassment and pariah status, et cetera, but if you're taking hostages, you're probably willing to embrace that anyway, you know, because it's only the tactic of an alienated party.

[00:56:25] Um, and there is a real reluctance in diplomatic receive wisdom to do things like, you know, impose sanctions to do things like go to court to do things like even support civil actions, because that is counter-intuitive to what a diplomat would want to do, which is about building relations, you know, quiet ways of understanding.

[00:56:46] Like if you're having a fight in a courtroom, well, that's not going to befriendly. Like, you know that that's a divorce, that's not a marriage. We're trying to build a marriage here. Um, and you know, we've probably spent. When you say we we've seen, we've had four foreign secretaries. Um, and we now go through dynamic each time we get a new foreign secretary where they get briefed to be soft and quiet and push things forward and let's try and reset the relationship and calm it down.

[00:57:12] And then let's see if that works and we have to wait for them to get frustrated, to have tried all out, reaching out the olive branch and then be willing to do something tough. Um, and I took me a while to realize that actually we have to call for tough action. We have to be the brave ones, but also we need to find a way to get the minister to see that all the soft diplomacies is frankly bullshit because the incentives.

[00:57:40] For the hostage taker. I mean the hostage taker not as in the Iranian state, it's ultimately it's that bit of the Revolutionary Guard that's holding Nazanin. Um, they sentence them to look like big tough guys. So all the time, um, you've got the British government railing against them saying how unfair there was a badge of pride, you know, um, until you're willing to cut through the bullshit.

[00:58:00] Um, then, then this goes nowhere. And, and ultimately the British government is very reluctant to cut through the bullshit, partly because the Iranian authorities and may be true for other authorities as well are very good at dangling the carrot of release, keeping it really, you know, we've come a long way, lads. We don't want to mess this up. Look, she could be out anytime soon, you know?

[00:58:23] Um, we've seen, you know, so yeah, we've seen for the last 15 months. 18 months Nazanin has literally been in the doorway in terms of how the whole diplomacy is about. She could have come home at any point and yet we've had, you know, a new conviction and new product. Like they've also been making it clear that they can carry this on for as long as possible.

[00:58:48] And the British government has tightened up its language a bit, but it is still imposing, no costs on Iran or the perpetrators individually. The holding of British citizens innocently, we know not just for the whole first sentence, but actually adding on a new one. 

[00:59:06] Daren Nair: Nazanin's hostage taking is not a one off issue.

[00:59:11] She's not the only British citizen currently held hostage in Iran. And you've been working with many other family members, of not just British citizens, but Americans, , French citizens, German citizens, Austrian citizens, and even Australian citizens. 

[00:59:26] There is a pattern of state sponsored hostage, taking a pattern of hostage diplomacy going on, not just in Iran, but also countries like Russia, China, Venezuela

[00:59:36] so can you just talk a bit about the work you're doing with the Magnitsky sanctions? 

[00:59:40] Richard Ratcliffe: Yeah. It's early days. I think it's fair to say, but that's right. I think, you know, after we went on hunger strike, we kind of reached the sort of peak of what you can do on your own. Um, and, and increasingly I think we realized that actually we're all going through the same journey, same battle.

[00:59:58] It is the same fight and, you know, The way the human rights system set up is it's kind of to treat each case like it's individual, but there's a common pattern here. Um, now probably Nazanin and a number of the other British cases are very closely connected because we are being used as bargaining chips for the same thing.

[01:00:17] Um, Nazanin, some of the other Iran cases, Europeans. the Americans are also quite close because it's the same guys doing at the other end and probably different things thereafter, but it's the same playbook that they're using. Um, and, and then you've got other states where without doubt they are looking and learning at each other and then picking up lessons of what works and what doesn't and, um, like any other.

[01:00:41] Sphere of business. It is competitive field where people are picking up good advice. Um, I think then as us coming together as families to talk about what to do with it, it started off really as, almost like a self-help group. So coming together and just sharing experiences and just feeling, not alone. Um, and probably not that, you know, privately just talking it through, realizing that we weren't unique, we won't be punished because we were unique and that, you know, actually there are patterns.

[01:01:09] So in some ways, some of the patterns that, that I was sort of talking to, you'd only came the realization to me. Only came through the conversation with other families that this is actually, this is what's going on. And then I started off just talking about Nazanin a lot to realize, actually we need to talk about hostage diplomacy.

[01:01:28] Um, and the, you know, the term and I was stumbling around everything, but, but in terms of the work we do, so there is. Um, a number of families probably principally former hostages with some current families, rather than the, um, current families have set up an organization called Hostage Aid Worldwide, um, which grew out of those networks of self-help in many ways.

[01:01:51] And, um, typically the families did the self, the self help, but it was those when they came home, some of them took it forward and, you know, wanted to actually make sure that no one's left behind or this doesn't seem to need to happen. Um, and, and they're going through a process of, you know, different things and trying to get governments to understand the problem better, but also then to do about the problem and get better structures, but also probably ourselves to understand the problem better.

[01:02:18] Cause it, you know, this is where your podcast is an important thing, that there aren't many spaces that are really figure out there. There isn't a body of evidence and understanding of how you deal with these cases. Um, And, and I think where we've ended up as the families is partly in the sort of the speaking out outrage space of just saying, listen, this is a problem that's being ignored.

[01:02:43] You bastard, governments, you need to get on with it, um, with different levels of force. And it's interesting at the moment and the European families have been quite outspoken. The American families are quite cautious a year ago. It would have been the opposite way around. Um, and that's because, you know, under previous President President Trump, um, there was a really alienated, um, relationship with, with, um, with Iran, um, uh, kind of hopeless.

[01:03:10] So you might as well speak to get noticed. Whereas now things have been a bit more, um, ambiguous equally the Europeans, a lot more fearful that they're being left behind on the actual European governments, prioritizing nuclear deal hostages. Nice to have, but not that essential, um, which is fundamentally what the problem is, is that hostage taking is regarded as a nice to have.

[01:03:30] Issue. It's not being regarded, um, as a fundamental, you know, how would I put it? So under international law, um, you know, the hostage taking has been regarded as a sort of human rights issue. Um, for internal human rights. It's not been regardless as a peace and security issue that, that the security council will be dealing with and it would be handled by that part of the UN um, you know, in the way that say terrorism would be.

[01:03:55] And because of that, it's then it's a B list issue. Um, um, and, and the accountability piece, I, yeah, I mean, you were looking at different things, um, and, and candidly. You know, we're all individual families having our own battles and our own traumas. And as y'all know, you know, we're all a bit difficult to deal with and have our ups and downs and so on.

[01:04:22] So there's a bit of a herding cats dynamic to doing communal activity. It's, it's, it's quite ad hoc and slow and very important, um, but it needs to go at the pace of a survivors group, not at the pace of, of, you know, a nice corporate plan where you could just, you could just rattle through it. Um, but we'll see what we, I mean, we've been working quite hard, um, some of the families, um, and, um, it'll all be anonymous, but some of the founders leading on it and other families understand, um, to identify who have been.

[01:04:55] The key perpetrators, um, you know, in Iran's hostage industry, um, and to, to put those names forwards and for sanctions. Now, that's probably quite a long process. I don't think we'll be finished with that, you know, for a number more months to actually sort of final final file. Um, but it's been quite an important therapy almost, you know, to, to be able to get the bastards back and to be part of that process.

[01:05:23] Um, and even probably for some, just the idea of that process is going on and those bastards don't get away with it. Um, I think, yeah, I think, you know, an awful lot when I was talking about earlier being a hostage is a, is a very powerless position to be in. Um, you don't know you're involved. You are. Yeah.

[01:05:46] You are the chess piece between two big powerful players or maybe many powerful players. Yeah. It's a really, it's really hard to hold on to, dignity um, and in that context, I think, you know, it's something that certainly scares some of the families, but I think for all of us, particularly for the survivors at the other side, really important that they've been able to stand tall and point a finger and say this, listen you don't get away with that, mate.

[01:06:12] You don't. Um, and so quite important for recovery. Um, and I think, yeah, you know, in the end, I mean, what, what, what matters surviving? So not, you know, actually, that's, it's less of an issue in, in hostage diplomacy than, than criminal kidnapping, but surviving is an issue. Um, then it's, it's longevity, how long you have to be there and then it's recovery.

[01:06:40] Um, and you don't get to really control the longevity one, but you shouldn't put all your focus on that one either. Actually you also need to be focusing on the recovery. Campaigning, um, part of what it does is it keeps hope alive. It keeps home alive, it keeps you know, alive for Nazanin. The, the idea that there is this big photo album of care that's out there and always been out there.

[01:07:05] And lots of people that have done lots of stuff for her and our family, um, from the goodness of their hearts and, and from the goodness of their hearts in a way that's personal, but in a way that's also affirming for all of us that actually the world is full of kind and caring people. Um, and we all have good days at work and so on, but that, that value is still there.

[01:07:24] And you could think of some people that we've met in the campaign, just, you know, great caring, giving people, um, you know, all of us flawed individuals in a different way, but, but really, um, making sure that the world is a bit better because they're in it. Um, and I think that in a context of an exposure to real cruelty is a really important part.

[01:07:47] Of of what campaigning has to do. Um, and actually, you know, if you think, you know, even, you know, even this podcast, you go in and talking to different families and just listening to different families, just giving them the space to tell their story and share their story and to realize their story is not unique.

[01:08:07] It's not just, oh my God, on Fox news, we've never heard of this before, but actually there are lots of people going through it and they survive it and yeah, they don't survive it perfectly. And we've all got hang ups, et cetera, but they get through it. It's a really important thing. Um, it's a really important thing.

[01:08:23] And it it's part of, I think in the end for me with campaign, when the other stuff we've not been so successful on, but, but, but yeah, just keeping, you know, keeping people, caring, keeping us caring and keeping home alive. Um, It is. Yeah. It's the only thing that matters in the end. 

[01:08:50] Daren Nair: No, absolutely. The reason I started this podcast is because I know I've been campaigning with families like yourself for five years.

[01:08:57] The most you can get on a television network is about 10 minutes. So I wanted to give you time to tell the full story. You mentioned, obviously there's been so many people helping you out NGOs politicians. The general public, , pro bono lawyers, public relations, people offering their services pro bono journalists, and even your employers are there.

[01:09:19] I just want to bring this up. How have your employers been helping you throughout these last five years and Nazanin's because I know that. There's a difference between the experience of hostage and hostage families when they are working for a large corporation and when they are self employed , because when they are contractors or freelance journalists and they get taken hostage, if they are the sole provider for the family, then the family goes into financial trouble because there's no insurance.

[01:09:51] The corporation doesn't continue paying their salaries. However, in your case, and Nazanin's case, you've been fortunate to have, good employers that have been assisting you. 

[01:10:01] Richard Ratcliffe: No, I think that's exactly right. Um, I think, I think it's nearly, always devastating economically in a case like this that lasts for so long, partly because, you know, you may well lose the person who was paying the mortgage, paying the rent, um, You know, for a period where they stopped getting paid.

[01:10:23] Um, and also those left behind find they're not able to work anything like the way they were able to work before. Um, and, and it needs a certain kind of understanding employer or an employer with insurance. Um, who's willing to stand by and take the hit. Um, and you know, and I mean, it's, I mean, there's so I, right.

[01:10:48] We were very lucky. Um, Nazanin still gets paid. I still get paid. Um, I was no pay rise or anything, but that's that standing by me, standing by us for many years, you know, it's not like this is, this has been six weeks. It's like standing by someone on long-term sick leave. No, you mean you get a bit of work out of me every so often.

[01:11:14] Um, but it's a bit. Um, and you know, it's been a long haul, you know, and, and I certainly owe my employers and my employees, obviously, you know, my bosses, literally people who have made those decisions, um, an awful lot of thanks and gratitude, you know, years of service. And it's obviously something that, that everyone of my peers, at work has seen and appreciated that actually the, the employers stood by me and didn't just sort of wash their hands and say, listen, mate, you're out.

[01:11:48] Cause in most cases, that's what happens is you get told at some point, okay, this has gone on a long time now. So do you want to come back to work properly or do you want to, you know, move on, um, and I've never been put in, in, in a position as, as tough as that. And, and you know, here we are year five and a half, I mean, that's a heck of a long time to have been carried that way.

[01:12:10] Um, And there is something, I mean, there's a wider point around the way in which companies deal with situations like this, um, which is often not great. Um, and, and we've had a lucky experience, but, you know, in many cases, you know, if you look at the profiles of people that have been taken in Iran, there's been a lot of academics.

[01:12:34] There's been a fair number of people who've been taken. Um, you know, whether they work for a cultural, a cultural institution or media organization. And, and, and it's rare, really rare the cases where that institution has stood up for their employee and said, listen, what are you talking about? spy? Bullshit, why they're being held? It needs to end.

[01:12:55] Um, you get quite a few organizations that will, you know, hire a lawyer and, you know, give the family some support. Um, some pastoral care but actually. Calling out this practice and calling out, um, the indulgence of this practice by British government, in our case U S government doing it. Um, very rare.

[01:13:22] And, and so if you look at whether we're talking about without names, let's say the universities I've never seen anything. Um, I mean, actually some quite shocking behavior by many of the employers at universities, um, by cultural institutions, um, where, you know, clearly the lawyers in central office have looked at the institution's own interests and have decided to let that, let that let the victim hang.

[01:13:53] Um, and I think, you know, in that context, so the Washington Post, it was very rare in their standing up for their citizens, for their, um, versus their, their employee, um, when he was taken 

[01:14:07] Yeah, this 

[01:14:07] Daren Nair: was for Jason Rezaian. 

[01:14:09] Richard Ratcliffe: For Jason Rezaian exactly, back in 20 15, 16. Um, very rare, indeed. I can't think of many, um, you know, I've seen a lot of cases.

[01:14:22] Um, I've seen a lot of cases where essentially the lawyer, the lawyers and senior management seem to decide that it's best to sit down and wait for the government to solve it, not upset things and that kind of whole rationalization where it makes it more complicated. It's incredibly, self-serving incredibly self-serving.

[01:14:39] Um, now, now in some ways you've got a different set of problems when you are self-employed because you're right. You just lose your income. Um, but, but you're probably less disoriented by the fact that that actually there's a bit of hand washing going on and many organizations that should know better do hand wash.

[01:14:57] Daren Nair: Should the British government be providing more support to families, held hostage solely because they are British. Not because they've done anything wrong.

[01:15:08] Richard Ratcliffe: Well, well, yes, it's a short answer. I mean, I'm just thinking that sort of, what will be the hoops you have to jump through before you're entitled? Like I think, I think they don't, I mean, like the fundamentally my gripe with the British government is their failure to protect Nazanin and that's where they need to put their focus.

[01:15:29] Um, could they do more to support the family, to support the family, to navigate their way through a situation like this? Yes, of course. Um, realistically they might be willing to do more pastoral support. In fairness like the special cases to which the thing that managers are more pastoral and the UK governments or the state interests are not, they're not, they're not going to help you hire a lawyer to go and then give them problems, um, to dig into different things.

[01:16:01] So I think we should be realistic about. What we would expect the status in a context of three party relationship in a context where the state has different interests with the victim, um, is the victim and the victim's family supported properly? No, they're not. Um, how would you do that better? I'm not sure if I would make that as sort of a state entity whose job it was.

[01:16:23] I mean, something like what the US have where they have a special presidential envoy that. There's a way of getting through to the boss, um, in our case the prime minister's envoy. There's also a body in government whose job it is, is to work out how to handle cases like that. That's also very useful. Um, and I think that building up expertise and an open discussion of it.

[01:16:44] So the Foreign Office is not great at openly discussing its policy and effectiveness of it's policy on any area. It's very sort of what we do this secretly on and they will close the doors. Um, so yeah, I think there's a lot more that could be done. I'm probably still in the middle of it. So not in the best place to be.

[01:17:03] You know, thinking through what works it's, you know, I can tell you the frustrations of, you know, the past month. Um, I'm not sure that's enough of a distance to really be giving useful policy advice. 

[01:17:16] Daren Nair: Thank you for that, Richard. So now we've reached the final part of our podcast. To everyone who's listening and wants Nazanin to be reunited with Richard , you can help as well.

[01:17:25] For members of the public in the UK, you can write or speak to your MPs. Now we have a few talking points, feel free to choose whichever ones you're comfortable with first of all urge the UK government to free Nazanin and other British citizens held hostage in Iran. Apart from Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe we've got Anoosheh Ashoori, Morad Tahbaz, and Mehran Raoof.

[01:17:45] You can also write to your MPs and get them to ensure the UK government does more to help British citizens. Unjustly detained overseas. An example would be making foreign office assistance. to British citizens detained overseas, a legal right. And finally you can get the government, to hold Iran and other countries that take British citizens, hostage, accountable using Magnitsky sanctions.

[01:18:12] What are your thoughts, Richard? Have you missed any other talking 

[01:18:14] Richard Ratcliffe: points? Yeah, like I think, I think that's all right. That, I mean, here we are five and a half years. What, what, what can we do? What's going to work. It's, it's a, it's, it's a really valid question at this point. Um, for me, the great concern always is drift.

[01:18:33] Um, and, and so part of what we do in campaigning and ask people to help us do, um, is, is to say enough's enough to the government. This is, you know, you cannot keep allowing this to drift on what, what, what, what the fuck. Um, so I do think, do think we will be doing in this autumn um, a series of escalations to make it clear that that, you know, the government is not good enough.

[01:19:02] We'll do those with Amnesty. We'll do those with We'll do those with Redress, the three main groups we work with, um, different things at different points. Um, cause you know, it's coming up to Nazanin's 2000 days, um, in, in, you know, a couple of weeks, um, hell of a long time, um, I think for me as a British citizen, I think that the government getting the government to see that its approaches aren't good enough and to change this approach is I think the long-term space to push on.

[01:19:37] Um, so, you know, you've got things like that. Yeah. This sort of abstract. Right. Um, but also on things like. torture, you know, Dominic Raab gave an interview to on the Andrew Marr show, on the BBC. Um, the way he talked about Nazanin being, you know, um, wouldn't disagree with Nazanin being characterized the hostage.

[01:19:54] And he did explicitly say that she was being tortured, um, and that, her treatment amounted to torture psychological torture more than physical. Um, but he didn't mean it was torture back in the beginning when she was solitary. He meant the whole process including now. And the sort of maybe back to prison, maybe home, um, all those games.

[01:20:11] Um, now when he recognized her as having been tortured, um, I think that was the first time in 20 years, a serving foreign secretary or minister of the foreign office has acknowledged the torture of a British citizen by an overseas government. That's extraordinary. We have the Foreign Office receives over a hundred complaints a year allegations of torture every year and they record them and they'll follow up and they got a whole protocol.

[01:20:41] And one in 2000 has met the threshold to be acknowledged. Um, it has never, as far as we can find ever reviewed the effectiveness of its approach to protecting people from torture. Um, so there were lots of things that when you dig into it, it's like, well, they don't. I mean, they do what they do and they manage us all, but does it work.

[01:21:05] I mean hostage policy. Does it work? I don't see. I don't see any evidence either way. So I think for me the, does it work? Are you looking at it? What have you done? Well, what honestly, cause they're very secretive getting that, you know, public discussion about how are we protecting our citizens and what, what, what is appropriate, you know?

[01:21:24] And it obviously nothing's for free and you know, it's not every time you get locked up, you have the right to have your ambassador come down and, and, you know, he's threatened all sorts of things, particularly really realistic. Now, if you look at actually how weakened UK is compared to a few years back or generation back or so on.

[01:21:43] Um, but that honestly thinking about what is the proper role. For the government to protect people, not, not whatever they want, but on the key things like torture and hostage taking and unfair imprisonment and so on. Um, you know, I've met too many families, really embittered how they've been treated. Um, and it, you know, you have a system that is discretionary and that requires, you know, you have a good access to be able to get things done.

[01:22:09] Um, that's bonkers, you know, when you look at it, it's, it's, you look at it on so many levels that the more likely you are to need the support, the less likely you are to get it because of the way it's structured. Um, so, so I think for me realizing how poor our protections are how not fit for purpose, the way the foreign office is in handling, um, overseas injustices, um, and, and putting that pressure on, on your MP, your government.

[01:22:46] To, to make the world, you know, to, to not allow that injustice, to just sort of carry on festering. I think that's a starting point. 

[01:22:56] Daren Nair: What can members of parliament in the UK, do I know your MP Tulip Siddiq has been phenomenal. She's been standing by your side for the last five years. Constantly raising Nazanin's case in parliament.

[01:23:06] What can members of parliament do? Because when I share breaking news updates with them about hostage cases, the first thing they come to me and ask is, what can we do? So I know in the U S for instance, there's a special Envoy for hostage affairs and they have a hostage recovery fusion cell. Do we need an all party parliamentary group for hostages?

[01:23:28] Do we need any new legislation? What are your thoughts? What can members of parliament do directly?. 

[01:23:33] Richard Ratcliffe: Yeah, I think, I think both of those are really good suggestions. Um, I mean, you're right. Your average MP, um, will be faced with a problem with constituents saying, please do something about X and they will want to know what can I do in a timely fashion.

[01:23:47] That's responsible, that's going to do something and there's no obvious answer. There's no, there's no magic wand out there. Um, and I think that's also right that we need to have A) better structures and B) a process of talking about them to work out what should be the right. And, and that's where Parliament's role is, is it's a talking shop, so it should be okay.

[01:24:06] You know, what should an effective government look like here, and how do we get one and do we need more money? Do we need better laws? Do we need, you know, okay, well, let, well, what did we start with? talking about it, debating it, I think, and, you know, the way Parliament works is, I mean, they're firefighting, they're dealing with problem after problem after problem.

[01:24:25] So it needs to be, you know, understanding that this is a big deal. And I mean, I would suspect actually Afghanistan, in some ways will will crystallize minds. Um, you know, there's, there's every chance and hopefully won't happen, but there's every chance there are a lot of British citizens are left behind.

[01:24:40] Um, and those become weaponized, uh, by the Taliban, as they're looking for the money that they want and et cetera, et cetera. Um, and that's in a very conspicuous, abandonment context where it's really clear the government's messed up. Um, most hostage cases are a surprise to the government when they happen, you know, if someone gets picked up and then they get told the government gets told, by the way, this bloke was in Russia, or this girl was in Iran, Afghanistan is a situation where, you know, they had 18 months warning it might happen and now it's all blown up.

[01:25:08] Um, so that, that will, I think because of the scale of it, perhaps, I mean, shape perceptions, um, in ways that, you know, may not be typical, but we will certainly allow people to understand the consequences of failure to deal with this area properly. Um, but yeah, I, I mean, I essentially, we had a huge level of, um, sort of MP support two years ago at the time of the hunger strike.

[01:25:36] Um, and we, we, you know, spent a long time working at what could we do with it. Um, and that's when the British rights abroad group came from. Um, and you know, we've mentioned. Yeah. So during the hostage, APPG, you sort of realize parliament, you know, it needs to be able to latch onto something. Um, and actually.

[01:25:58] You know, what you can do if the government takes up, the issue is quite different from what you could do. If the government doesn't take up the issue. Um, so we'll see on a few things, there's a few things I think we're gonna have to push quite hard in the next few months. Um, we'll see which one, if the government latches on one and then probably look to at least get that achieved, um, whether that's pushing Magnitsky sanctions whether that's pushing for better torture protections whether that's hostage APPG, whether that's, you know, actually the full, full, you know, wide legal change and the parliaments are slow business.

[01:26:32] I mean, I don't think I'd appreciated it when it started this that, um, you know, to change a law five years is pretty quick, um, you know, unless it's a really clear tangible one, or a big crisis. So, so we'll see. 

[01:26:46] Daren Nair: You also mentioned earlier that, if you get enough people to care, you'll get the right people to care more. And the way hostage families like yourself, get the message out is via the media.

[01:27:00] What can the journalists and the media organizations do to help hostage families like yourself? 

[01:27:07] Richard Ratcliffe: I think they can be braver. Um, I think there's a lot of safe reporting, um, in the sense that, you know, there's a lot of up close and personal, um, You know, is Nazanin sad in person? Are you sad that Nazanin's still there?

[01:27:23] Are you not angry with the government? Because they're not like really kind of, um, you know, I shouldn't be too cynical reporting. That's focused on the human story and the, the accessible emotions of the human story and bringing it down to that sort of tangible kind of family separation and unhappy, or being separated and yeah, with a little bit of background about that, but not really making the links.

[01:27:45] So, you know, not many media will refer to Nazanin as a hostage. Um, not many media in a story about Nazanin will talk about other cases. Um, you know, even the phrase hostage, diplomacy, it's, it's a bit dry, right. You know, you might get it in one of the broadsheets, you might get it on the, you know, sort of mentioned them in some sort of documentary.

[01:28:07] It's not going to make the six o'clock news. Um, and. I think also you kind of have this false balance. So there's two, this one, you know, there's a safe way of reporting Nazanin's case. So it will be to say Nazanin was convicted of five years charges, which she and her family denies. Um, and with the upmost respect, 

[01:28:31] the UN has ruled that they are illegal, the British government has ruled they're illegal it's not, it's not just, she doesn't say she doesn't agree with them because, you know, you find me a prisoner in the world that agrees and embraces her criminal charges would like more of them. And it's just, it's just nonsense.

[01:28:45] Um, but it's legally safe to say it. And then, because it's actually factually true that, that this happened.and it's factually true that she doesn't like it. Um, and, and I think being willing to, you know, the government is very good at saying they're raising concerns and doing all they can and managing the media. The government was much better at managing the media than, than, than average families because that's their job and the average family, it isn't their job.

[01:29:12] Um, so there's lots of ways in which as a family, we get played. Um, I get packaged and put into being the, sort of the suffering victim and a bit of color. Um, and, and I, I mean, I always was struck by, you know, in our case, um, how few journalists ever really dug into the debt. Um, yeah, it's a reasonably established, accepted parliament under these disputes by the government, even on the record.

[01:29:42] And in the early days it was disputed at the time. And so it would just get dropped again and again from pieces. And no one was thinking and it's like, listen, I mean, even cover it in the center of fake alleged theory by crazy angry husband, but go and dig into it, go and go and go and check this as you know, and.

[01:30:03] It was just too easy to keep it in the sort of man sad because his wife is sad in prison and Boris is going to get them home. or Boris has messed up and it, um, yeah, I, I it's in that sense. Um, and I wrote a piece for a, um, a website called Declassified, which is, it looks at sort of, um, security policy, um, and, and, you know, arms trade and so on.

[01:30:34] So, um, and I was able to put things in there that, you know, actually were common knowledge, but, but I've never been able to get there. I've said that many times, um, and occasionally you get the, you know, ranting theater, but there aren't many journalists that have got the gravitas and the mandate to be able to really say this stuff.

[01:30:55] Um, and, and that, I think it means that, you know, There's a way in which a lot of, of media is in the entertainment business. And there's a way in which the news is part of the entertainment business, it's called politics. It's, um, it's soap, opera stuff. Um, and we became part of that at points. Um, but, but there's sort of understanding how we're governed and the gaps in how we're governed and the dangers in those gaps, um, which is kind of what you naively assume, you know, public interest journalism will be about.

[01:31:32] Um, that's gone much more into the sort of the, the podcast space, much more into the, um, the yeah. The beyond the broadsheets space, um, than it used to be. Um, and I think, I think that's to say then that, you know, you can't, you can't rely on the media to tell your story. You have to tell your own story, um, and, and be brave, and then get the fact that the media will take up parts of it.

[01:32:05] Or it won't take up parts of it. It's got its own pressures. Um, and, and that's the process we all learn and we are still are learning. Um, and, and it's, it's easy to get angry and alienated, um, in a way that just isn't attractive for your average. We'll get out of work and come back.

[01:32:29] And the last thing I want to do is, you know, read some ranting, angry, um, you know, having a shitty day yourself. Thanks for much. So you, so there's absolutely a place for this sort of the homely part of campaigning and the hug, the media coverage campaigning, but it. Yeah, it's just the, I think I find its continual learning as to what gets in the media.

[01:32:58] And probably over time, I've ended up doing more and more of a hard edge stuff and less of the homely stuff. Um, and that's partly because we did so much of the homely stuff at the beginning and it, yeah. As I said earlier, if sympathy was going to get Nazanin home, she should have been home by now, um, it's not enough.

[01:33:15] It might be necessary, but it's not sufficient. 

[01:33:19] Daren Nair: So how can people stay up to date with the free Nazanin campaign? I know there are many people around the world familiar with Nazanin's case, but there are so many more who don't. So if they want to stay up to date with your, with the the free Nazanin campaign, what can they do?

[01:33:33] Richard Ratcliffe: Yeah, well, I mean, so we have a Twitter account, which is, uh, @freenazanin . Um, we have a petition on, which is, although we actually haven't done an update for ages is still the place where, where I've got lots of half written updates when to go out. Um, 

[01:33:48] Daren Nair: yeah, it's at, 

[01:33:52] Richard Ratcliffe: um, and Amnesty do a campaign and Redress do a campaign.

[01:33:57] They've got different things coming out with different points and there'll be.

[01:34:03] Yeah, that probably honestly the newspapers will have stuff, but, but I suspect in terms of asking people to do things, it typically, I would ask people to do things either via the petition, sometimes via Facebook, if it's a smaller thing, but normally the petition or there'll be things coming out of a dress or, or Amnesty.

[01:34:23] Um, and the Twitter account is, is really, you know, that's an update thing that sort of sharing what's happening, but it's not necessarily please do X. Um, but yeah, but no, I think, I think, you know, we, we've been very lucky that a lot of people have followed our story, um, and have given us, you know, a real strength in talking to the government because of it.

[01:34:44] Um, you know, certainly I have a reach and a profile and a power that comes with that, that other families don't have. Um, and that's very useful, for, you know, getting, keeping Nazanin protected. 

[01:34:59] Daren Nair: Richard, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us. We will be right here by your side, campaigning to bring Nazanin home and reunite your family.

[01:35:07] If you have any questions for Richard or myself, if you would like to send Richard messages of solidarity, or if you would like to tweet at your politicians, asking them to free, Nazanin you can do so on Twitter using the hashtag #PodHostageDiplomacy, and we will retweet your tweets and share them with Richard.

[01:35:24] The reason we focus on Twitter instead of other platforms is because most of the journalists, the hostage families and politicians, are on Twitter. So that's why we use that platform. And if we end up receiving a lot of good questions from listeners like yourselves, Richard and I will have another special Q&A podcast to answer your questions.

[01:35:42] Thank you for taking the time to speak to us, Richard. Let's free. Nazanin. 

[01:35:47] Richard Ratcliffe: Thank you. Thank you.

[01:35:48] Daren Nair: Thank you for listening to this week's episode of Pod Hostage Diplomacy. We're not just a podcast we're a community. If you're on Twitter and would like to post a message of solidarity to the families, or have any questions for us, please tweet it. Using the hashtag #PodHostageDiplomacy. And we'll get back to you.

[01:36:12] If you like what we're trying to do, please do consider supporting the show financially. You can do this using the support, the show link in the description of this podcast episode. We're grateful for any contributions, no matter how small. Thanks again for listening and we'll be back next week. Take care. .