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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’: Husband Richard will stay on Whitehall hunger strike until ministers do more

·3-min read
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’: Husband Richard will stay on Whitehall hunger strike until ministers do more

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband has vowed to stay on hunger strike in Whitehall until the Government responds to his demands to do more to free his wife.

Richard Ratcliffe is calling on authorities to secure the release of the British-Iranian aid worker, who is serving the second of two prison sentences in Iran. He began his second hunger strike in two years on Sunday and is sleeping in a tent outside the Foreign Office.

Mr Ratcliffe, pictured right, said police attempted to move him from his camp at 3.45am on Monday but he is refusing to leave until the Government acknowledges his requests.

“I’m staying until the Government responds,” he told the Standard on Monday.

“I’m hoping that response is to engage with the demands and not to tell the police to move me on.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, from Hampstead, was first jailed in Iran five years in 2016 after being accused of plotting against the regime while taking her daughter Gabriella to visit family in the country. The mother of one was sentenced to another year’s confinement in April on charges of “spreading propaganda”.

She has spent the past year on parole at her parents’ home in Tehran, but the latest ruling has sparked fears she could be sent back to prison.

Mr Ratcliffe said his wife’s prolonged incarceration was “upsetting” for his daughter. “She asked if she could sleep in the tent as well,” he said.

“The longer it goes on the more of a detrimental affect it has on her. It is upsetting. There is a lot of stuff she is exposed to but she is young enough not to dwell on it too much at the moment.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family has said she was told by Iranian authorities that she was being detained because of the UK’s failure to pay an outstanding £400million debt to Tehran.

Her husband is calling for the UK Government to acknowledge Nazanin and other “hostages” in Iran and keep its promise to pay the debt. He hopes his protest will push Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to bring up his wife’s case with the Iranians if

they attend the COP26 conference in Glasgow later this month. Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi is believed to be considering attending the UN climate change conference.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Iran’s decision to proceed with these baseless charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is an appalling continuation of the cruel ordeal she is going through.

“We are doing all we can to help Nazanin get home to her daughter and family and we will continue to press Iran on this point.”

The couple’s MP Tulip Siddiq said: “This is yet another piece of devastating news for my constituent, her family and the millions around the world who care about her. For Nazanin to face a return to prison after the ordeal she’s been through is nothing short of a catastrophe.

“It seems that every time we dare to hope that Nazanin might soon be free, there is another dreadful setback that puts freedom out of sight. Whatever the Prime Minister has been doing to free Nazanin is clearly not working.

“It’s time for the UK Government to pay the debt we owe to Iran, stand up to their despicable hostage taking and finally get Nazanin home.”

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