June 18, 2019 – On day four of Richard Ratcliffe’s hunger strike outside the Iranian embassy in London, embassy staff noisily repositioned the metal barriers they’d put up behind him and started sanding the building to suppress coverage of his campaign for his imprisoned wife’s freedom.
“Putting up metal walls can block the embassy’s view of Richard, but those walls won’t stop the rest of the world from seeing the injustice that’s being done to him, his wife and their entire family,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
On June 15, Ratcliffe began a joint wet hunger strike with his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, to urge the Iranian judiciary to free her from Tehran’s Evin Prison where she has been held on trumped-up espionage charges since April 2016.
CHRI urges the Iranian government to address the Free Nazanin Campaign’s demands:
- Immediately Release Zaghari-Ratcliffe
- Immediately allow her to be visited by British embassy staff in Tehran so they can check her health status (something she has been denied for the past three years)
- If Zaghari-Ratcliffe is not released in the next few weeks, allow Ratcliffe to visit her in Iran.
“The Iranian government’s treatment of Nazanin, Richard, and their young child is cruel and inhumane,” said Ghaemi. “It’s time for them to end this injustice.”
While visiting her parents in Tehran with her then 22-month-old daughter in April 2016, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ intelligence organization and sentenced to five years in prison under unspecified espionage charges.
An employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation charity, Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been eligible for release since November 2017 based on Article 58 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, which states that courts can issue an order of conditional release after a convict has served one-third of their sentence.
In July 2018, a judge reportedly told Zaghari-Ratcliffe that she was being held as a bargaining chip by the Iranian government to convince London to pay Tehran an old debt.
“The Rouhani government has stood by for the past three years while the Revolutionary Guards and judiciary have torn this family apart,” said Ghaemi.
“Zaghari-Ratcliffe is in prison for political reasons that have nothing to do with her,” he added. “Her freedom is long past due.”
At least 11 dual and foreign nationals or Iranian citizens with foreign residences were known to be imprisoned in Iran as of June 2019.