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British-Iranian woman ends jail hunger strike

June 29, 2019

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, Richard Ratcliffe, told British media that his wife had eaten some food in prison. The 40-year-old Iranian activist was detained by Iranian authorities on sedition charges.

Supporters hold a photo of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe during a vigil for British-Iranian mother
Image: Getty Images/C.J. Ratcliffe

British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ended her hunger strike in a Tehran jail after 15 days, her husband told BBC radio on Saturday.

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife ate some porridge with apple and banana.

"I'm relieved because I wouldn't have wanted her to push it much longer," said her husband, who also went without food for 15 days in solidarity with his wife.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe told Iranian officials on June 15 that she would refuse food until she was granted an "unconditional release."

Sedition charges

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran airport in 2016 as she was leaving the country after taking her infant daughter to visit family. She has been held in prison on espionage and sedition charges, accused of trying to "soft topple" the Iranian government.

London mayor Sadiq Khan holds a sign with Richard Ratcliffe which reads: Help us #free Nazanin
London mayor Sadiq Khan with Richard Ratcliffe, lending support to Zaghari-RatcliffeImage: Twitter/@FreeNazanin

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charity arm of the media company, denies all charges against her.

Her husband held a vigil outside the Iranian embassy in London, urging British authorities to make his wife's case a priority.

Richard Ratcliffe said he had asked Iranian authorities to release her immediately and for the British Embassy in Iran to be allowed to check on her health.

Read more: Nazanin Ratcliffe: a political prisoner?

Diplomatic efforts

In March, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt granted Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protection, but Iranian officials refused to recognize her dual nationality.

In May, Britain cited Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case in advising all British-Iranian dual nationals against traveling to Iran.

In 2018, she was granted bail and allowed to leave Evin prison in Tehran for three days, under the condition that she not speak to the media.

In 2017, then British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was forced to apologize after he incorrectly said that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been in Iran training journalists at the time she was arrested.

Sakharov Prize winner freed in Iran

shs/jlw (AP, AFP, dpa)

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