Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has told Andy Murray she ‘sometimes misses’ the prison environment and the friends she made in the six years she was jailed in Iran.
The British Iranian national, who was released in March, spoke to the tennis champ, 35, while guest-editing an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Today Show this morning.
The mother-of-one, 44, opened up about her day-to-day life in Evin prison in Tehran, where she was incarcerated for six years.
Describing how she took ‘refuge’ in the library, Nazanin says engrossed herself in philosophy and history books.
Nazanin – who worked as a project manager for Thomson Reuters Foundation – also said she made friends with other inmates while cooking and doing craftwork.
‘When I came out, there were times that I felt like I really missed my friends and missed prison,’ she explained. ‘It’s a very odd thing to say. I don’t know whether people actually can say that you miss prison, but I sometimes think that I miss the environment and my friendships in prison.’
During their discussion, Nazanin revealed that Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory in 2016 helped her to bond with other prisoners.
Two months into her sentence in July 2016, Nazanin says wardens gave her access to two TV channels.
At the time, Nazanin was two months into her sentence and had been placed in solitary confinement after being accused of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.
Having had no access to any newspapers or books, Nazanin explained how she had the choice between watching one channel that exclusively broadcast Iranian soap operas or another that was showing Wimbledon matches.
From her cell in Evin, Nazanin watched Andy Murray claim the Wimbledon title for the second time – three years after his first win – against Milos Raonic.
‘I was always a big fan of you, but also there I was in solitary confinement watching the match that you actually won in the end,’ Nazanin told Andy. ‘I can’t tell you how joyful it was and I was ecstatic just to see you win.’
That day, Nazanin says she made a promise to herself that she would email Andy when she was released and hoped to get tickets to see him at the championships the following year.
But despite her husband Richard’s tireless campaigning back in the UK, it took a further six years before Nazanin was allowed to return to her London home and be reunited with her daughter Gabriella.
However, she says she was so inspired by Andy’s victory that she taught other inmates his name which helped forge a ‘connection’ and made her feel ‘closer to home’.
In response, Andy said it was ‘by far the strangest, most incredible story that [he’s] been told about someone watching’ him play.
What’s more, the father-of-three says it was ’emotional’ hearing Nazanin speak and put his back and knee injuries – which have hindered his ability to play in recent years – into perspective. (DailyMail)