LONDON (AFP) – The husband of a British-Iranian dual national held by Teheran said on Thursday (Nov 11) he was in the “last few days” of a hunger strike as officials met to discuss her fate.
Richard Ratcliffe began his protest outside Britain’s foreign ministry in London on Oct 24 after his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe lost her latest appeal.
Ratcliffe met UK government minister James Cleverly after British officials held talks with Iran’s deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani.
“It (the hunger strike) is definitely feeling harder and it’s definitely feeling like we’re in the last few days,” said Ratcliffe.
“We’re not going to be able to do it for much longer because my body is saying so.
“We are most likely to still be camping after the meeting, but that’s a decision to make then.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested during a visit to her family in Teheran in 2016, convicted of plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime and sentenced to five years in prison.
The project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the news and data agency, strenuously denied the accusations.
She was then sentenced to another year’s imprisonment in April this year for participating in a rally outside the Iranian embassy in London in 2009.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe lost her appeal in October and her family fear she will return to prison, which she had been allowed to leave with an electronic bracelet in March 2020 amid Covid-19 concerns.
Ratcliffe believes his spouse is “caught in a dispute between two states” over a debt of £400 million (S$720 million) that London refuses to settle since the shah of Iran was ousted in 1979.
He began his current hunger strike, his second since 2018, in the face of what he said was “complacency running through the government strategy”.
“I’m hoping the needle has moved in the last couple of weeks and there’s a realisation that the status quo isn’t enough,” he added.
“I’ve had a lot of Foreign Office meetings where we’ve gone in with high expectations and come out deflated.
“The obvious thing that needs to be done is to settle that dispute and not allow innocent people to have their life wasted.”
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