British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe goes on hunger strike in her Iranian prison after the country’s Revolutionary Guard tried to pressure her into becoming their spy
- Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from Hampstead, London, has started hunger strike
- Her husband Richard Ratcliffe confirmed the news at a conference today
- Iran’s Revolutionary Guard wanted the British mother to become their spy
- Mr Ratcliffe will be meeting wife Jeremy Hunt today to discuss wife’s situation
A jailed British mother has gone on hunger strike over a lack of medical treatment and because the Iranian Revolutionary Guard tried to pressure her into becoming their spy.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and human rights activist Narges Mohammadi began the protest today in Evin prison after authorities failed to convince them they would get specialist care.
At a press conference today, her husband Richard Ratcliffe, also said the initial three day strike was motivated by Iranian Revolutionary Guard interrogators trying to pressure her into becoming a spy for Iran in late December.
Richard Ratcliffe (left) has said his wife’s (far right, pictured with daughter Gabriella) has started her hunger strike in Evin prison, Iran
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent her 40th birthday behind bars in Tehran’s Evin Prison last month
He confirmed Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, started the strike on Monday morning after speaking with her on the phone.
Mr Ratcliffe said: ‘What really pushed her over the edge was they tried to make her become a spy for Iran against the UK.’
Specifically, he said, they wanted her to spy on the Department for International Development and ‘she was told it would be safer for her and safer for her family afterwards if she agreed to do this’.
He added: ‘She was told to think about it and that they would return. She had been terrified ever since.’
He also said that he will be meeting with Jeremy Hunt later this afternoon to discuss the situation.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has started an initial three day hunger strike. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe (pictured) has been diligently campaigning for her release and will meet Jeremy Hunt later today
The 40-year-old, from Hampstead, north-west London, has been detained for more than 1,000 days in Iran, having been accused of spying, a charge she vehemently denies.
On Sunday, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and fellow prisoner Narges Mohammedi met with Abbas Khani, the head of the clinic at Evin Prison, located in the outskirts of the country’s capital, but failed to get written assurances regarding treatment.
The first wave of the strike was to last three days, but she will consider extending it if her demands to see a doctor are not met.
Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, who has long campaigned for her release, said she been refused medical attention for lumps in her breasts, neurological care for pains in her limbs and access to an external psychiatrist.
Human rights charity Redress renewed calls for the Government to end her ‘appalling’ treatment by taking ‘immediate steps to secure her release’, including by granting her diplomatic protection.
Director at the charity Rupert Skilbeck said: ‘We are gravely concerned about the mental and physical impact that Nazanin’s prolonged and unjustified imprisonment is having on her.
‘Any new denials of her right to medical care further worsen the ongoing serious violations of her human rights.
‘The UK Government should assert Nazanin’s rights under international law to obtain reparation on her behalf – including her release.’
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation charity, was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport on April 3 2016 and was sentenced to five years in jail.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: ‘The Foreign Secretary has discussed this issue with Richard Ratcliffe, and is keen to take a decision as soon as possible.
‘We continue to take action on all our consular cases in Iran in line with what we believe will produce the best outcomes in their cases.’
Thomson Reuters Foundation chief executive Monique Villa has said it is ‘extremely shocking’ to see a ‘totally innocent’ employee begin such a drastic protest.