Husband of Iranian detainee denounces Boris Johnson’s “cold decision”

The husband of Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe criticized Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his “cold decision” to allow Iran to continue to “arbitrarily” detain British nationals.

Richard Ratcliffe, who has been on hunger strike outside the Foreign Office in Westminster for two weeks, said Mr Johnson should take the opportunity to meet with the Iranian delegate to Cop26 to lobby for freedom of the British detained in Evin prison.

On his 14th day of camping in Whitehall, Mr Ratcliffe told the PA News Agency that he intended to continue the strike at least until the middle of next week.

Mr. Ratcliffe with his lawyer Penny Madden QC and MP Tulip Siddiq before the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Stefan Rousseau / PA)

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe herself has carried out several hunger strikes, the longest of which lasted for 15 days, her husband said.

Surrounded by a small group of relatives and supporters and wrapped in a blanket and hat, he said a candlelight vigil attended by around 70 people the day before gave him a moral boost to continue.

When asked how he was, Mr Ratcliffe said: “I feel a lot flatter, it’s almost like the batteries are a little dead.

“Over the days, the fatigue is a little more noticeable. But I keep going and am always grateful to everyone who comes. “

Mr Ratcliffe, who is supported by his sister, GP Rebecca Ratcliffe, added: “We have to be careful – slowing the body is the first sign of pushing too far.

Richard ratcliffe
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband has gone on hunger strike for the second time in two years and intends to sleep in a tent the night after his wife lost her last call in Iran (Steve Parsons / PA)

“But I intend to still be here when the Iranian delegation is in the UK.

“They are due on Sunday so I at least plan to be here until the middle of next week.”

Ahead of the Iranian delegate’s arrival at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, Mr Ratcliffe said he would like Boris Johnson to “take responsibility” and champion his cause.

“It is a cold decision to let the Iranian government keep British nationals like Nazanin hostage,” he said.

Richard Ratcliffe and his daughter Gabriella
Richard Ratcliffe and his daughter Gabriella hold placards in Parliament Square in September to mark the 2,000th day Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained in Iran (Kirsty O’Connor)

“What I would like him to tell the Iranian delegation is that this cannot continue. We should find a way.

“He has an opportunity this week – he should take it. “

Mr Ratcliffe added that his wife “lives in a state of constant anxiety” in prison.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Anglo-Iranian binational, has been detained in Iran since 2016 after being accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

She was taking her daughter Gabriella to see her family when she was arrested and was sentenced to five years in prison shortly after, spending four years in Evin prison and one under house arrest.

According to her family, Iranian authorities have told Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe that she is being detained due to the UK’s non-payment of a £ 400million debt to Iran.

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