The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said he’s determined to “continue” his hunger strike, which he started in order to denounce “the complacency” of the British authorities in the case of his wife who has been detained in Iran since 2016.
“This is not a coup. It is not a game, but a hunger strike,” Richard Ratcliffe told AFP on Friday, marking nearly two weeks since he started the strike.
He was speaking during a candlelit vigil supporting his fast which he started on Sunday 24 October outside the British Foreign Office.
“The status quo is unacceptable”, he said, in front of the slogan “Free Nazanin” written with small candles, three weeks after his wife lost an appeal against her last conviction by an Iranian court.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual citizen, was a project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the news agency of the same name, when she was arrested in 2016 in Tehran, whilst visiting her family.
She was then accused of conspiring to overthrow the Islamic Republic – which she fiercely denies – and sentenced to five years in prison.
After serving her sentence, she was sentenced again at the end of April to one year in prison for participating in a rally outside the Iranian embassy in London in 2009.
In mid-October, Zaghari-Ratcliffe lost her appeal, causing her relatives to fear an imminent return to prison, from where she had been authorised to leave with an electronic bracelet in March 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Richard Ratcliffe believes his wife finds herself held hostage “in a conflict between the two states” because of an old debt of €467 million, which London has refused to settle since the eviction of the Shah of Iran in 1979.
He began this new hunger strike, his second since 2018, in the face of “a certain complacency” from the British government and “the failure of its strategy”.