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British-Iranian woman begins fresh hunger strike in Tehran jail

Nazanin was sentenced to five years for allegedly trying to topple the Iranian government.

Undated family handout file photo of charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Undated family handout file photo of charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Image: Family Handout/PA Images

A BRITISH-IRANIAN MOTHER being held in a Tehran prison on sedition charges has begun another hunger strike in protest at her detention, her husband said today.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, is refusing food as she marks her daughter’s fifth birthday, Richard Ratcliffe said in a statement.

His wife was arrested in April 2016 as she was leaving Iran after taking their infant daughter to visit her family. She was sentenced to five years for allegedly trying to topple the Iranian government.

“She had informed the judiciary that she has begun a new hunger strike (she will drink water) – to protest at her continuing unfair imprisonment,” he said.

This is something she had been threatening for a while. Nazanin had vowed that if we passed Gabriella’s fifth birthday with her still inside, then she would do something – to mark to both governments – that enough is enough. This really has gone on too long.

A project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the media group’s philanthropic arm, she denies all charges.

She previously went on hunger strike in January.

“Her demand from the strike, she said, is for unconditional release. She has long been eligible for it,” said Ratcliffe.

“I do not know the response from the Iranian authorities.”

He urged the Iranian authorities to release her immediately, for the British embassy to be allowed to check on her health, and – if she is not released within the coming weeks – for him to be granted a visa to visit her.

He later stood outside the Iranian embassy in London and said he would maintain his own hunger strike and vigil outside for as long as his wife was refusing food.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe detained Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of British charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Source: Dominic Lipinski

‘Do the right thing’ 

Last month, London changed its travel advice for British-Iranian dual nationals, warning them against all travel to Iran, citing Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said his message to Tehran was:

Do the right thing, show the world your humanity and let this innocent woman home. Free Nazanin.

He added: “Whatever the disagreements you may have with the United Kingdom, there is an innocent woman at the heart of this.”

Amnesty International UK’s director Kate Allen said Zagari-Ratcliffe’s plight was “truly heartbreaking”.

“Nazanin is a prisoner of conscience, unfairly jailed after a sham trial and subjected to all manner of torments,” she said.

“It’s shocking that it’s come to this.”

© – AFP 2019

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