Mum held in Iran on hunger strike
A British-Iranian mother held in Tehran planned to go on hunger strike last night in protest at being denied medical care in prison.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says she will refuse food for three days despite fears that the Iranian authorities will cut off visits from her four-year-old daughter.
She will consider extending the protest if her demands to see a doctor are not met.
Richard Ratcliffe said his wife felt a “strong sense of trepidation” before the hunger strike. He added: “The question is whether she’ll just strike for the three days she announced or whether she’ll decide to go on.”
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, has suffered a series of mental and physical health complaints since she was arrested at Imam Khomeini airport in April 2016.
“We know a hunger strike has significant physical consequences the longer it goes on for and Nazanin is feeling a strong sense of trepidation. But there aren’t many ways she can say, ‘Enough is enough. Take me seriously,’ ” said Mr Ratcliffe.
He said his wife was having medical checks blocked and was concerned over lumps in her breasts, neck pains and numbness in her arms and legs.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to five years in jail after being accused of spying, a charge she denies. She has been detained for more than 1000 days.
The charity worker’s daughter, Gabriella, has been staying with family in Iran since Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was detained.
Thomson Reuters Foundation chief Monique Villa said last night: “This is slow and cruel torture, yet one more injustice inflicted upon her.”
Last week, Iranian state television broadcast previously unseen footage of her arrest in a documentary accusing Britain of seeking to infiltrate Iran through the BBC’s Persian service.
The film shows Ms Zaghari-- Ratcliffe’s shock as an official at Tehran airport says she is banned from leaving the country and that he holds a warrant for her arrest.
While no mention is made of the BBC during the arrest, the film identifies the British-Iranian charity worker as a “main agent” in a campaign by the corporation to recruit and train opposition journalists in Iran. Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe previously worked in the BBC’s charitable international development wing. She has never worked for BBC Persian or in any journalistic capacity.
Mr Ratcliffe said the documentary contained “some previous distortions and half-truths and some outright lies, still attempting to stand by the lie that Nazanin was doing something against Iran”. He believes his wife is being held for diplomatic leverage against Britain.
The documentary features the moment when then foreign secretary Boris Johnson mistakenly told parliament Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was training journalists at the time of her arrest.