The husband of the detained British-Iranian humanitarian worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is starting a hunger strike in Whitehall, calling on the government to do more to secure his release.
Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been detained in Iran for five years on suspicion of spying, recently lost her appeal against a second prison sentence.
Richard Ratcliffe said his wife was “getting more and more upset”.
The Foreign Office says it “will continue to put pressure on Iran” on the issue.
Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 43-year-old mother from London, has been detained in Iran since 2016 and has not seen her daughter for two years.
He is serving the second of two prison sentences, this one on probation for a propaganda sentence against the Iranian regime. She stays with her mother in Iran, but she is not allowed to leave the country.
Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe has always denied any wrongdoing.
But now he risks returning to prison, after having lost the appeal against the latest sentence. Mr. Ratcliffe said she had already been called back.
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The hunger strike began on Sunday near the Foreign Office and Downing Street in London. This is the second time Ratcliffe has used this tactic, following a 15-day hunger strike outside the Iranian embassy in London in 2019.
“Two years ago I went on a hunger strike in front of the Iranian embassy on the eve of Boris Johnson being hired as prime minister,” Ratcliffe said. in an online statement.
“We are now giving the same treatment to the UK government. In truth, I never expected to have to go on hunger strike twice. This is not a normal act. It seems extraordinary to have to adopt the same tactic to persuade the government. here, to bridge the responsibility gap ”.
He said that although Iran remained the main responsible country, “the UK is also letting us down.”
“It is increasingly clear that Nazanin’s case could have been solved many months ago, but for other diplomatic agendas. The prime minister must take responsibility for it.”
He added: “It can be difficult to capture the feeling of a life being consumed, watching the prison approach as we sit in the Prime Minister’s tray.”
Ratcliffe said he was making four demands on Johnson, including the recognition of Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe as a hostage, and that the UK was pushing for an end to hostage-taking during the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear deal.
He also asked the government to pay the £ 400 million debt the UK owes Iran, which dates back to an agreement between the two sides on tanks in the 1970s.
Mr. Ratcliffe believes his wife was imprisoned as a lever for debt.
He spoke to new foreign minister Liz Truss earlier this month, but said he was told the government’s response was to still do nothing until Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe returned to prison.
“For us, the imprisonment is too late, it would mean not seeing Nazanin until 2023,” he said.
Congressman Tulip Siddiq – who represents the constituency where the Zaghari-Ratcliffe live – invited the government to listen to Ratcliffe.
“It breaks my heart that my constituent Richard Ratcliffe was once again forced to go on a hunger strike to protest the government’s inability to free Nazanin,” he said.
“It should never have come to this. It is time for the government to listen to the demands of Nazanin’s family, including paying the debt we owe to Iran, and finally bring them home.”
On Sunday, a Foreign Office spokesperson said: “Iran’s decision to proceed with these baseless allegations against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a frightening continuation of the cruel ordeal it is going through.
“Instead of threatening to take Nazanin back to prison, Iran must permanently release her so that she can go home.
“We are doing everything we can to help Nazanin get home to her young daughter and family and will continue to pressure Iran on this point.”
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- Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
- Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe case
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