Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 7 July 2020

Australian and British detainees met in Iranian prison, says Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband

Richard Ratcliffe confirmed his British-Iranian wife had met Australian detainee Kylie Moore-Gilbert as he shared a birthday message

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held since April 2016 on what her family says are false charges of plotting against the government. AP
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held since April 2016 on what her family says are false charges of plotting against the government. AP

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian national detained in Tehran, has confirmed his wife met Australian detainee Kylie Moore-Gilbert.

Mr Ratcliffe shared the news on Twitter while wishing his wife, who turned 41 on Boxing Day, a happy birthday.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained in Tehran on April 3, 2016. She was sentenced in September 2016 to five years’ imprisonment for allegedly “plotting to topple the Iranian government”.

A month later, the prosecutor general of Tehran said Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been running a journalism course “which was aimed at recruiting and training people to spread propaganda against Iran”.

The dual citizen's five-year-old daughter, Gabriella, who was staying with her grandparents in Iran, returned home to stay with her father Richard Ratcliffe in October. She had only been allowed to visit her mother once a week in prison.

“Happy birthday Nazanin. Our thoughts are with you,” Mr Ratcliffe said through the Free Nazanin Twitter page on Thursday.

In the social media post, Mr Ratcliffe revealed that his wife met with fellow detainee Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who is also being held in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Ms Moore-Gilbert, an academic and expert in Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne, has been held in solitary confinement in the jail for the past 15 months. She has been denied contact with her family for nine months, apart from a three-minute call with her father, the Herald Sun reported.

The Australian national began a hunger strike on Christmas Eve after writing to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to do “whatever it takes” to secure her release.

“Nazanin called yesterday - she saw Kylie Moore-Gilbert at the health clinic who was being checked after 48hrs of being on hunger strike,” Mr Ratcliffe said on Twitter.

The organisation Iran Human Rights said on Thursday that Ms Moore-Gilbert was "in tears and looked desperate" 48 hours into her hunger strike when Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe ran into her in the clinic of Evin Prison.

“Before the guards pulled them apart Nazanin was able to tell Kylie that the world is watching her story & it will be ok,” Mr Ratcliffe said.

He added that a number of women in the ward joined the hunger strike in solidarity with Kylie on Christmas Eve.

“If Kylie has not been transferred out of solitary by New Year’s Eve, they will go on hunger strike again,” he added.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under increased pressure to secure Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release, partly because he made remarks as foreign secretary in November 2017 that critics said appeared to put her at risk.

He said that she “was simply teaching people journalism” in the country, but pivotal to the British-Iranian national’s defence was that she was in Iran on holiday and had never trained journalists in the country.

Last week, it emerged that Mr Johnson agreed to meet Mr Ratcliffe to discuss his wife’s detention.

Other foreign nationals have been held in the notorious prison in the Iranian’s capital. Australian couple Jolie King and Mark Firkin were detained in Evin prison for three months but were allowed to return home in October after the charges against them were dropped.

Before they were arrested, they had been blogging about their two-year trip on Instagram and YouTube.

Updated: December 26, 2019 11:04 PM

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