Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband dreams of wife's release by Christmas

Richard Ratcliffe and wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

London (CNN)Richard Ratcliffe is relentless.

On Wednesday, after two weeks of constant interviews, writing press releases and telling the story of his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to the world, he will meet British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to discuss how he can secure her release from an Iranian jail.
It is a significant milestone in a story that began 19 months ago when Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian citizen, was detained at Tehran airport on suspicion of spying -- claims which she and her family vehemently deny.
    What initially appeared to be an administrative error quickly escalated, and Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to five years in prison. The couple's daughter, Gabriella, now three, was given over to her grandparents in Iran, while Richard Ratcliffe has fought for his wife's release from his home in Britain.
      In a quirk of fate, the meeting with Johnson would almost certainly be not happening were it not for an ill-judged remark by the famously off-the-cuff politician, which set off an avalanche of criticism surrounding the British government's handling of the case.
      But Ratcliffe is acutely aware that the sudden focus on the case will not necessarily result in an instant breakthrough for his wife.
      "I've been promising her for quite a long time that it will be over soon," Ratcliffe told CNN. "It can feel like quite an empty promise."
        Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and daughter Gabriella.

        Johnson blunder

        The renewed attention on the Free Nazanin campaign, led by Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband and an army of supporters, came two weeks ago when Johnson, appearing before a British parliamentary committee, said Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been detained for teaching journalism during her visit to Iran.
        The remark directly contradicted the position of Zaghari-Ratcliffe's family, her employer, and, not least, the British government, all of whom maintain that she was on vacation when she was arrested.
        The comments were particularly insensitive as Iran views with deep suspicion any attempt to foster an independent media in the country. But Johnson's blunder also fed into a wider political narrative that he is an ineffective foreign secretary, lacking a grasp of the fine detail of policy that is essential in sensitive diplomatic situations. That propelled Zaghari-Ratcliffe's story to the top of the news agenda in the UK.
        Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is set to visit Iran before the end of 2017.
        The seriousness of Johnson's error became apparent days later when Zaghari-Ratcliffe was summoned to an unscheduled court hearing, at which the foreign secretary's remarks were cited as proof that she had engaged in "propaganda against the regime."
        Fears have grown that her five-year sentence could be lengthened.
        But for all the political swirl, Ratcliffe is only focusing on one thing -- his family.
        He worries for his wife, who has endured interrogation, launched a hunger strike, and most recently was taken to hospital after discovering lumps in her breasts.
        The only insights Ratcliffe gains into his wife's mental or physical state come during their phone calls, which normally take place every Sunday.
        Some calls are harder than others, he says. Zaghari-Ratcliffe can spend the entire time crying down the phone.
        Other times she talks about she has been knitting and sewing new outfits for her daughter, who she sees twice a week.
        "Sometimes when we speak she can be tearful and distraught," Ratcliffe says.
        "When I spoke to her on Sunday she was all four seasons. She was laughing about Gabriella and what she had done and then was angry at other things."
        Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held in an Iranian prison.
        While he fears for his wife's health and safety, Ratcliffe is also aware that his relationship with Gabriella is changing.