Europe

Husband of UK charity worker detained in Iran goes on hunger strike

The husband of a UK-based charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has begun another hunger strike in London after an Iranian court decided she has to spend another year in prison, the Associated Press reported. 

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested by Tehran officials in 2016 on accusations of plotting to overthrow Iran's government, which she and rights groups deny. She has already served a five-year prison sentence on those charges, the AP reported. 

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, started his fast on Sunday outside of the UK government's Foreign Office in central London. 

Ratcliffe said he plans to sleep in a tent outside of the office's entrance to put pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek the release his wife and others detained in lran, according to the AP. 

Two years ago, Ratcliffe went on a 15-day hunger strike outside of the Iran embassy, an effort he believes led to the release of his 7-year-old daughter from custody, the AP noted.

"We are now giving the U.K. government the same treatment. In truth, I never expected to have to do a hunger strike twice. It is not a normal act," Ratcliffe wrote in his Change.org petition, which had more than 3.5 million signatures as of Sunday. 

 

The court sentenced Zaghari-Ratcliffe to serve another year in prison in May on charges of "propaganda against the system," stemming from her participation in protest outside of Iran's London Embassy in 2009. The appeals court upheld that decision, which also included a one-year travel ban that will end in 2023.

Ratcliffe said Iran has remained the "primary abuser" in his wife's case, but added the U.K.'s government has let him down, the AP reported.

"It is increasingly clear that Nazanin's case could have been solved many months ago - but for other diplomatic agendas," Ratcliffe said. "The PM needs to take responsibility for that."

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