Husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ends hunger strike after 21 days

13 November 2021, 13:41 | Updated: 13 November 2021, 17:03

Richard Ratcliffe went 21 days on hunger strike
Richard Ratcliffe went 21 days on hunger strike. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is ending his hunger strike protest over her detention in Iran after 21 days.

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Richard Ratcliffe had set up outside the Foreign Office in Whitehall, where he has criticised the British Government for failing to secure her release.

She has been held by Iran since 2016 when she was accused of plotting to overthrow the regime there.

The charges are thought to be part of an ongoing dispute over the UK's withholding of a £400m debt to Tehran, when it did not provide tanks ordered by the Shah before he was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Mr Ratcliffe told LBC he feels "relieved" and "grateful" to be ending his hunger strike, which has been a big challenge.

He said he has been in a lot of pain due to the cold, particularly on his hands and feet.

"I promised Nazanin yesterday that if it was too tough then I would stop," he explained.

"I think the whole family is relieved."

Speaking previously in the week to LBC's James O'Brien, Mr Ratcliffe said: "I came out of the meeting with [foreign secretary] Liz Truss without much confidence that things were going to move.

"We'll see if this does make any difference – I think there's a lot of MPs making noise on social media, recognising the situation, that actually allowing your citizens to be held hostage over your unpaid debt is a pretty dark moral place to be."

He said: "We probably hoped we'd get a breakthrough doing this. We haven't yet.

Read more: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe husband criticises 'pretty dark' Govt as hunger strike continues

Richard Ratcliffe ends hunger strike

"I didn't want to go out in an ambulance. I want to walk out with my head held high."

Mr Ratcliffe said he was beginning to get pains in his feet and he made the call to stop after speaking to a doctor.

He hopes to get checked in hospital and eat afterwards.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe went to Iran with the couple’s daughter to see family but was arrested and sentenced to five years in jail.

She spent four years in Evin prison and one under house arrest.

The UK has reportedly told Iran it cannot pay the debt because of restrictions brought about by sanctions.

Mr Ratcliffe previously camped outside the Foreign Office for 15 days two years ago, which he believes got his daughter home.