Nazanin Ratcliffe

What is entirely beyond my comprehension is who goes on holiday to Iran, of all places? And takes a small child there? 

When people leave totalitarian states, like the emigrants from the USSR or from Cuba did, they know they can’t go back because it’s very dangerous. Back in the 1970s, for instance, it was tragic because people left knowing they’d never see their family members and would never even be able to write letters. There wasn’t Skype back then, and calling on the phone was out of the question. And people accepted it, hard as it might have been.

Today with Skype, email and phone, risking a “holiday” in Iran is insane. So I think Boris Johnson was actually saying the truth the first time around.

P.S. Is it even a story here in the US? I’ve seen it on the British channels at the DR, but I’m not sure anybody here is following. I just find the whole thing to be very weird, and the husband seems to be hiding a lot. Can you imagine a fellow who would sign a permission for the wife to take his 22-month kid vacationing in Iran? Can you imagine a mother who’d do such a thing? I’m not taking Klara to the DR because I’m afraid the water will upset her tummy. This is such a weird story, and I’m sure we don’t know half of it. 


13 thoughts on “Nazanin Ratcliffe”

  1. I believe Nazanin has family in Iran, which is why she went there.

    “Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested during a trip to Iran with her daughter, Gabriella, to visit family members. The daughter, who is now three, had her passport confiscated before it was returned. She is living with her grandparents in Iran and is allowed to see her mother twice a week.” from –


    1. But that’s what I’m saying. Who goes on a visit to a deeply authoritarian state? And drags a baby with her? It’s a ridiculously enormous risk.

      I actually had a friend from Iran, also called Nazanin. The chances of her and her parents going on a jaunt back to Iran were nil. They knew how dangerous it was.


  2. It’s a story I’ve missed in Poland (and didn’t see in Malta either).

    I’ve known some Iranians who go back for periodic visits mostly for family reasons but they are very non-political which doesn’t seem to be the case here.

    There’s other cases of dual-nationals who apparently somehow thing that citizenship in a western country will give them political leverage in the countries where they also have citizenship – this is a weird consumerist mentality that I do not get where citizenship becomes in their minds a second credit card when payment is declined on the first…. Her British citizenship is completely irrelevant in this case – perhaps her daughter’s citizenship is relevant unless she foolishly obtained Iranian citizenship for her too…


    1. They are pushing two completely contradictory stories at the same time. Either the country is so safe that you can take a casual joint there with a toddler. Or it’s so dangerous that “regular British mums” are grabbed for no reason and tortured on a whim. Both narratives can’t be true at the same time.


      1. “Either the country is so safe that you can take a casual joint there with a toddler”

        in which case she was probably working against the government….

        “so dangerous that “regular British mums” are grabbed for no reason and tortured on a whim”

        in which case she was very negligent regarding her daughter’s physical and mental safety (and she’ll suffer for this for a long time and need a lot of therapy no matter what happens)

        “Both narratives can’t be true at the same time.”

        Media is probably trying to avoid criticising her for cultural/political reaons and hoping people can’t count…


  3. I suspect maybe she was lured there. Or there was some pretext by Nazanin’s parents — “come see us, we’re dying.”

    Anyways, I’m not sure Skype is unblocked in Iran, or that the phone is. Letters would obviously be read and intercepted.


    1. The dad says he talks to the toddler all the time.

      Nazarin is not a shy little wallflower in a burqa. She is an educated, powerful woman who married a non-muslim guy and leads a lifestyle that the Iranian authorities don’t promote for women. She is a professional and obviously the head of her family because the husband seems quite weak in that relationship.

      I don’t believe that she was there on an innocent family visit. I think she was there for work, like Boris Johnson said.


      1. The dad says he talks to the toddler all the time.
        Hmm. Can’t say much to a toddler though. They’re probably not using Skype or Whatsapp or Facetime.

        The pretext of “Come see us, we’re dying” works on guilt, not education.

        Or maybe she was dumb (like you said) or there for work (like Boris Johnson said).

        I’m not sure WhatsApp even operates in Iran anymore.

        Per NordVPN, Skype is blocked in several middle eastern countries. In Iran ” mixed reports about Skype being available. Seems the connectivity is often interrupted, making the service unusable.” Now this link suggests using a VPN to access the service, but just imagine how well that’ll go over with a totalitarian regime. :-p


      2. Well, maybe. Though what kind of spy takes her little daughter along? People are fucking weird. Easily weird enough to think, 22-month-old? Iran? Match made in heaven!

        But isn’t the problem–in terms of the news, at least–not that the Iranians caught a spy, but that Johnson went and admitted it to everyone?

        (Also, just found your blog, and am addicted.)


        1. Welcome to the blog! I love having new, intelligent readers.

          I think Johnson is trying to make it known that she’s not an agent of the UK government. Because that’s the first thing everybody suspects, and it’s not good.


    2. “Letters would obviously be read and intercepted.”

      I dunno. One of the little secrets of most totalitarian societies is that competence is not on display much of anywhere and this includes the security apparaturs. The good side is that this means people can often get away with a surprising amount, the bad means that you never know when your luck will run out. I suspect that she’d gotten away with enough stuff in the past that she ended up pushing her luck just a little too far.


    1. I resent the implication that I’m a totalitarian dictator. :-)))

      On a serious note, I have absolutely no explanation why the system does this sometimes. None. It’s completely arbitrary.


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