Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 July 2019

Zaghari-Ratcliffe husband slams Boris Johnson as he continues hunger strike

On a hunger strike outside Iran’s London embassy, Mr Ratcliffe says he’s faced Iranian ‘aggression’

On a hunger strike outside Iran’s London embassy, Mr Ratcliffe says he’s faced Iranian ‘aggression’

The husband of a British-Iranian charity worker held in an Iranian jail has slammed Conservative frontrunner and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson as a security risk to his wife and believes Mr Johnson’s rival candidate Jeremy Hunt would do a better job as Britain’s next prime minister.

Richard Ratcliffe, who is on hunger strike outside the Iranian embassy in London, told the National on Wednesday that Mr Hunt is someone who “genuinely cares” about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to the UK with her daughter, Gabriella, after a family visit. She was sentenced to five years in jail on espionage charges, accusations she denies.

“He (Mr Hunt) cares about other cases clearly. He’s someone who’s working on trust. He’s got his own values… it feels like someone that goes to church and listens to what is around him”.

Mr Ratcliffe said there were, however, “more natural politicians” and that in his role as foreign secretary, Mr Hunt “has not done everything we wanted”.

He told the National that he had spoken to Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe on the phone on Wednesday and vowed to remain on hunger strike in London so long as his wife was.

Iranian officials had warned Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe against going on hunger strike and has since suffered high blood pressure.

No Iranian official has communicated with Mr Ratcliffe in the past three years but they have reacted against his own vigil in support of his wife. The tents pitched and placards erected on the pavement outside drew a hostile reaction, he says aggression has come “indirectly” from Iran’s London embassy.

“On Monday they erected screens not originally here. Then that didn’t stop us filming. Then they decided to start spraying the fence to try and move our tents. I said, I’ll move a little but I’m staying here”.

Bottles of water surround Mr Ratcliffe, as he sits on a stool talking to journalists. Friends and family come in droves to offer their support.

A trickle of Iranians, visibly moved by the very public hunger strike on the pavements outside the Iranian embassy, shake hands and embrace Mr Ratcliffe.

“It’s really moving… so many of them come and share their own stories.”

Mr Ratcliffe has received the support of British Iranian comedian Shappi Khorsandi.

“This family need all our support to get Nazanin home,” she tweeted on Tuesday.

On his fifth day of a hunger strike, Mr Ratcliffe said he would keep fighting to bring his wife back home despite exhaustion and fatigue setting in.

He remains adamant that the continued spotlight on Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case will eventually make progress.

“With this level of attention, I’m sure that there will be difference.”

Updated: June 20, 2019 04:02 PM

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