British-Iranian woman begins fresh hunger strike in Tehran prison

British-Iranian woman begins fresh hunger strike in Tehran prison

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, held on sedition charges in Iran since 2016, marks daughter’s 5th birthday with protest; husband says will fast in solidarity, hold London embassy vigil

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter, Gabriella, in 2016. (AFP)
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter, Gabriella, in 2016. (AFP)

A British-Iranian mother being held in a Tehran prison on sedition charges has begun another hunger strike in protest of her detention, her husband said Saturday.

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,” Ratcliffe said.

Ratcliffe said he would hold a vigil outside Iran’s London embassy, and would fast in support of his wife.

Richard Ratcliffe displays a family photograph of himself and wife Nazanin with their daughter Gabriella in London, April 2, 2018, on the second anniversary his wife’s detention. (John Stillwell/PA via AP)

“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,” he said.

A project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the media group’s philanthropic arm, she has denied 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,” Ratcliffe said. “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.

High-level diplomatic attempts to secure her release have so far failed. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt granted Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protection in March, but Iranian officials refuse to recognize her dual nationality.

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

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