Husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe goes on second hunger strike

24 October 2021, 17:45 | Updated: 24 October 2021, 19:06

Richard Ratcliffe is beginning a hunger strike outside the Foreign Office in London.
Richard Ratcliffe is beginning a hunger strike outside the Foreign Office in London. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has gone on hunger strike for the second time in two years due to the Government's "inaction and failure" in its handling of her case.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq - who represents the couple's constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn - made the announcement on Sunday afternoon.

"My heart breaks to write this, but once again my constituent Richard Ratcliffe has been forced to go on hunger strike because of the Government's inaction and failure to #FreeNazanin," she tweeted.

"It should never have come to this."

Mr Ratcliffe is set to begin his hunger strike outside the Foreign Office in London after his wife lost her latest appeal in Iran.

Read more: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe could be sent back to prison 'at any time' after losing appeal

Read more: PM insists government doing 'everything we can' to help Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

It comes as Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, has been in custody in the country since 2016 after being accused of plotting to overthrow the Government.

She was taking her daughter Gabriella to see her family when she was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison shortly afterwards, spending four years in Evin Prison and one under house arrest.

According to her family, she was told by Iranian authorities that she was being detained because of the UK's failure to pay an outstanding £400 million debt to Iran.

On a petition on Change.Org, which had more than 3.5 million signatures as of Sunday afternoon, Mr Ratcliffe wrote: "Two years ago I went on hunger strike in front of the Iranian Embassy, on the eve of Boris Johnson taking over as Prime Minister.

"Two years ago we were allowed to camp in front of Iranian Embassy for 15 days, much to their considerable anger.

"But it got Gabriella home. We are now giving the UK Government the same treatment.

"In truth, I never expected to have to do a hunger strike twice. It is not a normal act.

Read more: UK to pay £400m to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Iranian state media reports

"It seems extraordinary the need to adopt the same tactics to persuade Government here, to cut through the accountability gap.

"Of course Iran still remains the primary abuser in Nazanin's case. But our family is caught in a dispute between two states.

"The UK is also letting us down. It is increasingly clear that Nazanin's case could have been solved many months ago, but for other diplomatic agendas.

"The PM needs to take responsibility for that.

"Who does the Government answer to for the choices it makes? Who takes responsibility?"

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), said: "Iran's decision to proceed with these baseless charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is an appalling continuation of the cruel ordeal she is going through.

"Instead of threatening to return Nazanin to prison Iran must release her permanently so she can return home.

"We are doing all we can to help Nazanin get home to her young daughter and family and we will continue to press Iran on this point."