Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe shares tearful reunion with daughter Gabriella after being detained in Iran for six years

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe returned to the UK in the early hours of Thursday morning after a brutal ordeal in Iran

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's daughter welcomes 'mummy' home
(Image credit: Getty)

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had an emotional reunion with her daughter, Gabriella, as she returned to the UK after six years of detention in Iran.

The Iranian-British aid worker landed in RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on Thursday—marking the end of a long and painful ordeal in the Middle-Eastern country. 

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, was welcomed home by a small group of close friends and family, including her husband and their seven-year-old daughter, Gabriella, shortly after 1am this morning. The sweet schoolgirl could be heard asking, "Is that mummy?" as she watched her mother depart the plane alongside Anoosheh Ashoor, a fellow British-Iranian dual national who had also been held captive in Iran. 

See more

Zaghari-Ratcliffe broke down in sobs as Gabriella ran towards her, embracing her only child on British soil for the first time since she was a baby. The pair even shared a lighthearted moment amid the emotional reunion, after Gabriella commented, "You smell nice!" 

"Do I smell nice? I haven't had a shower in 24 hours," she replied. 

Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, Richard, told the Times that their family is "learning how to be happy again" after the traumatic experience and are now looking forward to "beginning of a new life." He also told reporters that he and Zaghari-Ratcliffe would take some time away for a couple of days with their daughter to 'recuperate'. 

Why was Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe detained in Iran? 

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested by the Iranian Armed Forces in Tehran in April 2016, after she attempted to board a flight to the UK with her then-22 month-year-old daughter. She was found guilty of 'plotting to topple the Iranian government'—an accusation she has vehemently denied—and sentenced to five years in prison. She was released temporarily on 17 March 2020, due to fears over the COVID-19 pandemic, but continued to be monitored by the Iranian authorities. 

On Wednesday, 16 March 2022, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that both Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ashouri had been released from prison freed and would finally be returning to the U.K. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.