July 17, 2019

British-Iranian Woman Jailed in Tehran Begins New Hunger Strike, Husband Says

British-Iranian Woman Jailed in Tehran Begins New Hunger Strike, Husband Says


LONDON — A British-Iranian woman who has been imprisoned in Tehran has begun a new hunger strike to demand her freedom, her husband said as he vowed to support her by fasting outside the Iranian Embassy in London.

The woman, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, was a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation when she was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her young daughter, Gabriella, after a family visit.

Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, now 40, was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge strongly denied by her family and the foundation, a charity that operates independently of Thomson Reuters and Reuters News.

“Today I received a phone call from Nazanin in prison,” her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said in a statement on Saturday. “She had informed the judiciary that she has begun a new hunger strike — she will drink water — to protest at her continuing unfair imprisonment.”

“She sounded nervous, but calm,” he added. “Her demand from the strike, she said, is for unconditional release. She has long been eligible for it.”

Iran’s judiciary could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday. Tehran has previously said that her case is in the judiciary’s hands.

The hunger strike comes amid heightened tensions between the West and Iran, which the United States and Britain blame for explosions on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. Iran has denied involvement.

Britain has long called for Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release, a demand repeated on Twitter by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Saturday. Her jailing has added further tension to Britain’s already strained ties with Iran.

In 2017, Boris Johnson, then the foreign secretary and now the front-runner to replace Theresa May as prime minister, was accused of worsening her plight when he told Parliament that her conviction for sedition was a mockery of justice because she had been “simply teaching people journalism.”

Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s employer, family and local parliamentary representative said Mr. Johnson’s statement was not only untrue but had also created new risks for her. Days after Mr. Johnson’s comments, Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was taken to a new court hearing to face fresh charges, and Mr. Johnson’s words were cited as evidence that she had been engaged in “propaganda against the regime.”

In January, Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe went on a three-day hunger strike after her family said she had been refused permission to see a doctor to examine lumps in her breast and to address other health issues. Her family said she had ended the hunger strike a few days later after she was granted medical treatment.

Her husband said he, too, would stage a hunger strike from Saturday: outside the Iranian Embassy in London.

Mr. Ratcliffe said his wife “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.”

High-level diplomatic attempts to secure her release have so far failed. Mr. Hunt granted Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protection in March, but Iranian officials have refuse to recognize her dual nationality.

Last year, she was granted a three-day furlough to see her young daughter and other relatives, then returned to prison.





Source link

About The Author

Related posts