British mother held for ‘spying’ in Iran vows to go on hunger strike
3rd January 2019

British mother held for ‘spying’ in Iran vows to go on hunger strike

  • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says she will not eat until she gets medical care
  • Treatment has been blocked for lumps in her breasts and numbness in her arms 
  • The mother from Hampstead, north London, was arrested in 2016 in Tehran
  • She was jailed for spying for five years on charges she strongly denies 

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was permitted a three-day release in August to be briefly reunited with her four-year-old daughter Gabriella

A British mother who was jailed for five years in Iran on spying charges says she will go on hunger strike to protest a lack of medical treatment in custody.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe announced plans to forgo food at Tehran’s Evin Prison to demand medical provisions, alongside a prominent Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said treatment has been blocked for lumps in her breasts, neck pains and numbness in her limbs.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe and fellow prisoner Mohammadi wrote in a joint letter: ‘We are urging for an immediate action to be taken.’

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in 2016 at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport and is serving a five-year jail sentence for alleged sedition. 

The charity worker from Hampstead, north London, spent her 40th birthday on Boxing Day in prison cut off from her husband and her four-year-old daughter. 

Initially arrested in 2015, Mohammadi was sentenced to 10 years in prison for ‘forming and managing an illegal group’, among other charges.

This photo shows Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabrielle a few months before she was arrested in 2016

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Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent her 40th birthday behind bars in Tehran’s Evin Prison last month

‘Nazanin is currently having medical treatment blocked for lumps in her breasts, for neurological care over her neck pains and numbness in her arms and legs, and seeing an outside psychiatrist has been banned,’ her husband Richard Ratcliffe told AFP.

‘These are all being personally blocked by the head of Evin clinic, Mr Khani, despite having been approved by the prison doctor.’

Her fellow inmate Mohammadi was the spokeswoman for the now-outlawed Defenders of Human Rights Centre, which was co-founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.

‘We are severely disturbed and concerned by this prevention of specialist care approved by the prison doctor and strongly protest against it,’ Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Mohammadi said in their joint letter, originally published on Ebadi’s website.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabriella last year during a three-day release 

‘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 January 14 to 16.

‘We are urging for an immediate action to be taken.

‘We announce that in the event of the authorities failure to address these concerns and them further endangering our health, we will take further actions.

‘The authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran are to be held responsible for the potential consequences.’

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s daughter Gabriella has been staying with family in Iran since her mother was detained.

Her husband Richard has mounted a high-profile campaign for his wife’s release, branding her detention a ‘travesty of justice’.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt pressed his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Zarif, about the case in September when they met in New York on the fringes of a United Nations General Assembly.

The month before, Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been granted a three-day release to see her daughter but her request for an extension was denied and she was forced to say goodbye to Gabriella again and return to jail.

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