Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband blames UK debt to Iran for wife’s detention

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has blamed the UK’s outstanding debt to Iran for the failures in his wife’s case.

On the 16th day of his hunger strike outside the Foreign Office, Mr Ratcliffe admitted looking and feeling “rougher” on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today.

Ratcliffe began his second protest in two years as a means of putting pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to meet the Iranian delegate at the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow. 

He wants Mr Johnson to demand his wife’s freedom alongside the other British nationals who are being kept in the notorious Evin Prison, in Iran.

Who is Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe?

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, has been in custody in Iran since 2016.

The aid worker was detained five years ago after being accused of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.

She had been visiting her family with the couple’s daughter, Gabriella, to see when she was arrested.

Nazanin was sentenced to five years in jail shortly afterwards where she has since spent four years in Evin prison and one year under house arrest.

In October, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s lost her appeal against the recent propaganda charges against her.

Following the failed appeal, foreign secretary Liz Truss released a statement via Twitter. 

Truss wrote:”Iran’s decision to proceed with baseless charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is utterly unacceptable.

“There are no credible grounds to continue to hold her and she must be released permanently. I will do all I can to help Nazanin and her family.

In response to the failed appeal, Richard Ratcliffe organised his second hunger strike outside the Foreign Office, where he has been for the past 16 days.

Richard Ratcliffe spoke to ITV’s Good Morning Britain today (Monday, November 8): “I’m definitely looking rougher and feeling rougher.

“I don’t feel hungry but I do feel the cold more.

“It’s a short-term tactic. You can’t take it too long or you end up in a coma.”

Ratcliffe added that he will now have to listen to his body when deciding when to end his hunger strike.

Enfield Independent: Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, outside the Foreign Office in London, on day 16 of his continued hunger strike following his wife losing her latest appeal in Iran. Picture date: Monday November 8, 2021. Credit: PARichard Ratcliffe, the husband of Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, outside the Foreign Office in London, on day 16 of his continued hunger strike following his wife losing her latest appeal in Iran. Picture date: Monday November 8, 2021. Credit: PA

He explained:“At this point I will have to start listening to my body.

“Over the weekend I spent most of the day sitting down. The batteries were really flat.

“One of the things with a hunger strike is you get more stubborn the longer things go on, so you become less able to flexibly let go.”

How much does the UK owe Iran?

As part of his hunger strike demands, Mr Ratcliffe called for the UK government to repay a £400 million debt to Iran.

Mr Ratcliffee told Sky News that his wife is being kept “hostage” due to the debt. 

The debt has arisen from the UK failing to deliver Chieftain tanks which were ordered by the Shah of Iran before he was overthrown in 1979.

An international arbitration process was held in 2008 which ruled that the UK still owed Iran the debt.

But the UK still hasn’t repaid the debt with the most recent negotiations breaking down again in the summer.

Mr Ratcliffe told Sky News the UK paying Iran the money is part of the conditions to end his hunger strike.

He said: “I think that the UK should repay the debt – that’s why Nazanin was taken.

“We have lost five-and-a-half years to unpaid debt, others have been taken since.”

However, he insisted that the UK must also take a tougher stance towards Iran keeping British citizens prisoner.

Mr Ratcliffe said: “But also they do need to be tougher with Iran on hostage-taking.

“For example, this week the Iranian vice president is being hosted up in Glasgow and being wined and dined.

“Really it should be challenged, that it is not OK that when UK citizens have been taken hostage that the Iranian state carries on as normal.

“I don’t think that the Government’s approach to hostage-taking is effective, five-and-a-half years shows that.”

Enfield Independent | News