Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe begins new hunger strike in Iran jail

British-Iranian mother was arrested for allegedly plotting against the Iranian government, charges she denies.

    Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin's husband, told judicial officials she will refuse food until she is granted 'unconditional release' [File: Alastair Grant/AP Photo]
    Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin's husband, told judicial officials she will refuse food until she is granted 'unconditional release' [File: Alastair Grant/AP Photo]

    A British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran for more than three years on sedition charges has begun a new hunger strike to protest against her detention, her husband has announced.

    Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 41, is refusing food as she marks her daughter's fifth birthday, Richard Ratcliffe said in a statement on Saturday.

    Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked for the charity arm of news agency Thomson Reuters, was detained at Tehran airport in April 2016 on charges of plotting against the Iranian government.

    She was sentenced to five years on espionage charges and has since been held in a prison in Tehran.

    Charity worker imprisoned in Iran 'needs medical help'

    Her family denies the allegations.

    Speaking outside the Iranian Embassy in London, Richard Ratcliffe said on Saturday that Nazanin would refuse to eat but would drink water until she is granted unconditional release.

    "She had informed the judiciary that she has begun a new hunger strike (she will drink water) - to protest at her continuing unfair imprisonment," he said.

    "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."

    Ratcliffe said he would hold a vigil outside the embassy and would fast in support of his wife.

    Human rights group Amnesty UK said it plans to publish a video diary from Ratcliffe during his hunger strike.

    180928214438786

    Nazanin 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," said Ratcliffe.

    "I do not know the response from the Iranian authorities."

    High-level diplomatic attempts to secure her release have so far failed.

    The UK's foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, granted Nazanin diplomatic protection in March, but Iranian officials refuse to recognise her dual nationality.

    Reacting to the news that she had begun a hunger strike, Hunt on Saturday sent a message to Iran via Twitter, urging the Iranian government to "do the right thing, show the world your humanity & let this innocent woman home".

    Ratcliffe 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.

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

    SOURCE: News agencies