Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe wishes her temporary release from an Iranian jail had not happened, her husband has revealed.
In an open letter to Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Richard Ratcliffe also says his wife – a British-Iranian dual citizen – has “numbness in her legs” after suffering two panic attacks following her return to Evin prison in Tehran.
Mr Ratcliffe describes his wife’s return to jail as a “day of cruel disbelief”, and “back to black”. The prison guards “cried”, he says.
Once back behind bars, Mr Ratcliffe and his wife had “one of our toughest conversations”.
He writes: “She wished she had never been released. She said she felt like one of the radical Islamists’ captives – as though she had been paraded on the balcony then hidden back away.
“After that call, Nazanin collapsed, the result of two panic attacks. She still has numbness in her legs.”
The family feels “held together by sellotape”.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 for “plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime” and was convicted last year, despite her denials.
Mr Ratcliffe thanks Mr Zarif for his part in enabling Nazanin to spend a few days last week with her daughter Gabriella, who was “finally able to give her mummy the flowers other families give Evin prisoners on release”.
But he also points out that his wife was given 10 minutes’ notice of her release, and had to use a passerby’s phone to call her family.
And he says that as Nazanin was being temporarily let go, “her interrogator called her father in to privately warn him that the British Embassy should not visit her, if she wanted to stay safe”.
Mr Ratcliffe continues: “Each day he called to note they were monitoring her movements, and check her father was following her to make sure she did not suffer an accident on the street.
“Those calls cast a shadow over her release, as they were meant to.”
He says it was a “cruel game”, despite his wife observing “all the conditions she was given for her furlough”, adding: “It went beyond the Revolutionary Guard’s legal mandate to insist on extra terms.”
Mr Ratcliffe says his wife is “one of a number of Iranian dual nationals held on invented political charges, a wave of ordinary people taken in the political battles following the nuclear deal”.
He has informed the Foreign Office that the family “will not be pushing for furlough again”.
He says: “In three weeks, Nazanin will be eligible for unconditional release, when she reaches the halfway point of 900 days.
“This is when we will also both be in New York due to the UNGA (UN general assembly) meetings. I would like to meet with you – to discuss what is next for Nazanin.”
Mr Ratcliffe finishes with a plea: “What good is a government if it cannot protect its citizens from abuse?
“It is time for the Iranian government to protect its own citizens from the excesses of other parts of the regime.”