Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband claims police tried to move him from tent outside Foreign Office at 3.45am – as he’s joined by their daughter on day two of protest over ministers’ ‘inaction’ leaving wife stuck ‘in limbo in Iran’

  • Husband Richard Ratcliffe launched second hunger strike in two years in London
  • Mr Ratcliffe is camping outside Foreign Office in campaign for his wife’s freedom
  • British Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran for four years
  • Country accused her of trying to overthrow government while she was visiting 

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe claimed police tried to move him on from his protest outside the Foreign Office and says he will stay until the Government responds.

Richard Ratcliffe has today been pictured outside the Foreign Office in London on day two of his latest hunger strike and has been joined by their daughter Gabriella. 

The father says police officers attempted to remove him at 3.45am this morning but that he intends to stay until the Government takes action, according to the Standard. 

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.

Richard Ratcliffe, pictured with daughter Gabriella, has today been pictured outside the Foreign Office and says he intends to sleep in a tent at night until the Government responds

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (R) lost her appeal against a second jail sentence earlier this month and her husband Richard (L) admits he is ‘shocked’ and ‘angry’ as he launches his hunger strike

She was taking her daughter Gabriella to see her family when she was arrested and was 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 £400million debt to Iran.

Mr Ratcliffe has been pictured outside the Foreign Office with signs demanding help from the Prime Minister.

‘I’m staying until the Government responds,’ he told the Standard on Monday.

‘I’m hoping that response is to engage with the demands and not to tell the police to move me on.’

One sign lists four demands for Boris Johnson, asking the government to ‘acknowledge Nazanin and the others as hostages, punish the perpetrators, keep the promise to settle the debt and commit to end state hostage taking in JCPOA negotiations’. 

Mr Ratcliffe (pictured) says police officers attempted to move him on at 3.45am this morning

JCPOA refers to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and is more commonly known as the Iranian nuclear deal – an agreement reached between Iran and the EU in 2015. 

Mr Ratcliffe said his wife’s prolonged incarceration was ‘upsetting’ for his daughter, adding: ‘She asked if she could sleep in the tent as well.

‘The longer it goes on the more of a detrimental affect it has on her. It is upsetting. 

‘There is a lot of stuff she is exposed to but she is young enough not to dwell on it too much at the moment.’

On a petition on Change.Org, which has more than 3.5 million signatures as of Sunday afternoon, Mr Ratcliffe has written: ‘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.

Richard Ratcliffe’s daughter Gabrielle joined her father outside the Foreign Office earlier today

Mr Ratcliffe says his family is caught in a dispute between states and is being let down by UK 

‘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.

‘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?’

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq tweeted 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.

‘It should never have come to this.’ 

Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Amnesty International UK, said: ‘It’s so incredibly upsetting that it’s come to this.

‘Like Richard, we’ve grown tired of hearing ministers saying they’re ‘doing all they can’ for Nazanin and other arbitrarily-detained Britons in Iran – it doesn’t look like that to us, and it certainly hasn’t produced results.’

Nazanin was with daughter Gabriella, now six, (pictured together during a temporary release in 2018) who was with relatives in Iran until eventually coming home to her father in 2019

He said the Government should set out a clearly articulated strategy for how it intends to secure the release of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other British nationals detained in Iran.

‘We call on Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and other ministers to take the time to come out of their offices to visit Richard at his tent. Ministers need to hear first-hand how desperate this situation is,’ Mr Deshmukh said.

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.’

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