Husband of detained UK-Iranian national ends hunger strike

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The husband of a British-Iranian dual national held by Tehran said Saturday he had ended a three-week hunger strike aimed at encouraging the British government to strike a deal for her release.

Richard Ratcliffe began his protest outside Britain’s foreign ministry in London on October 24 after his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe lost her latest appeal in Iran.

“Today I have promised Nazanin to end the hunger strike,” he wrote on the campaign’s official Twitter page, adding that their daughter “Gabriella needs two parents.”

Ratcliffe recently met UK government minister James Cleverly after British officials held talks with Iran’s deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani about the situation.

He said on Thursday
the protest was entering its final days “because my body is saying so.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested during a visit to her family in Tehran in 2016, convicted of plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime and sentenced to five years in prison.

The project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the news agency, strenuously denied the accusations.

She was then sentenced to another year’s imprisonment in April this year for participating in a rally outside the Iranian embassy in London in 2009.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe lost her appeal in October and her family fear she will return to prison, which she had been allowed to leave with an electronic bracelet in March 2020 amid Covid-19 concerns.

Ratcliffe believes his spouse is “caught in a dispute between two states” over a debt of £400 million ($540 million) that London refuses to settle since the shah of Iran was ousted in 1979.

His latest hunger strike was aimed at highlighting “complacency running through the government strategy.”

“The obvious thing that needs to be done is to settle that dispute and not allow innocent people to have their life wasted,” he said.

AFP

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