LONDON (AP) – The husband of an Anglo-Iranian woman detained for more than five years in Iran said on Saturday that the hunger strike outside the British Foreign Ministry is about to end after 21 days.
Richard Ratcliffe slept in a tent outside the Foreign Office’s main entrance in an effort to pressure the British government to secure the release of his wife and other detained British-Iranian citizens. He began his demonstration last month after his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, lost her last appeal in Iran.
“We were probably hoping to achieve a breakthrough by doing this. We haven’t done that yet, “Ratcliffe said.” “I didn’t want to go out in the ambulance. I want to go out with my head held high.”
Ratcliffe said he had started to have foot pains during the night, and an argument with a doctor convinced him to end the hunger strike. He said he was planning to go to the hospital to get checked and hopes to be able to eat something later.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe served five years in prison after being arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016 and convicted of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government, a charge she, her supporters and human rights groups deny. .
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was employed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency’s charity arm, and was arrested on her way home to Britain after visiting her family. Rights groups accuse Iran of holding dual citizenship as a bargaining chip for money or influence in negotiations with the West, which Tehran denies.
In May, she was sentenced to one more year in prison on charges of spreading “anti-system propaganda” for participating in a protest outside the Iranian embassy in London in 2009. Last month an appeals court ruled. confirmed the verdict, which includes a one-year travel ban, meaning she would not be able to leave Iran until 2023.
Her husband looked grim after meeting with British foreign minister James Cleverly on Thursday in the wake of discussions he had with Iranian officials in London.
After describing his meeting with Cleverly as “depressing”, Ratcliffe said he was nearing the end of his hunger strike “as a strategy”.