Zaghari-Ratcliffe to go on hunger strike in Iranian jail

British woman and fellow inmate announce protest over ‘inhumane’ lack of medical care

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British woman imprisoned in Tehran on espionage charges, is to go on hunger strike to protest at being denied access to medical care.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national from north London, is asking for access to a doctor. She announced the hunger strike from Tehran's Evin prison in a joint letter with her fellow inmate, the human rights activist Narges Mohammadi.

The women said they had planned an initial three-day hunger strike, which would be extended until their demands were met.

In a letter published by the Tehran-based charity Defenders of Human Rights Centre, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe said both women were banned from accessing medical care.


“In protest to this illegal, inhuman and unlawful behaviour, and to express our concerns for our health and survival at this denial of specialist treatment, despite taking daily medicines, we will go on hunger strike from the 14th of January until the 16th of January,” the letter said. “We announce that in the event of the authority’s failure to address these concerns and them further endangering our health, we will take further action.”

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, Richard Ratcliffe, told HuffPost UK: "She has felt she has to do something to show enough is enough, this has gone on too long. And this time I have not been able to talk her out of it."

Mr Ratcliffe said his wife was not receiving medical treatment for lumps in her breasts, or neurological and psychiatric care. He said he hoped the hunger strike would not last longer than three days.

Saturday marked 1,000 days since Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at Tehran's Imam Khomeini international airport on the 3rd April 2016. She spent her 40th birthday, on St Stephen's Day, in prison despite renewed calls for her release. Her four-year-old daughter, Gabriella, has been staying with family in Iran.

Richard Ratcliffe said she feared her continued imprisonment meant she would be unable to have a longer-for second child.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to five years in jail after being accused of spying, a charge she vehemently denies. Her husband is campaigning for her release and has called her continued detention a travesty of justice. Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary, has been unable to persuade Tehran to release her.

Ms Mohammadi (46) is serving a 16-year sentence after being found guilty of “establishing and running the illegal splinter group Legam”, a human rights movement that campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty.– Guardian