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Nazanin’s husband ‘looking and feeling rougher’ on 16th day of hunger strike

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The husband of Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said he is looking and feeling “rougher” on the 16th day of his hunger strike outside the Foreign Office.

Richard Ratcliffe began the protest to put pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to meet the Iranian delegate at Cop26 to demand the freedom of Britons detained in Evin prison.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, has been in custody in Iran since 2016 after being accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

She had been taking the couple’s daughter, Gabriella, to see her family when she was arrested and was sentenced to five years in jail shortly afterwards, spending four years in Evin prison and one under house arrest.

Claudia Winkleman and Victoria Coren Mitchell visit Richard Ratcliffe
Claudia Winkleman and Victoria Coren Mitchell visit Richard Ratcliffe (Aaron Chown/PA)

Her husband told ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Monday: “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.”

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

“At this point I will have to start listening to my body,” he said.

“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.”

Mr Ratcliffe also demanded that the UK repay a £400 million debt to Iran.

He told Sky News that his wife is being kept “hostage” due to the debt, arising from the UK failing to deliver Chieftain tanks ordered by the Shah of Iran before he was overthrown in 1979.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe detained
Richard Ratcliffe demanded that the UK repay its £400 million debt to Iran (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

In 2008 an international arbitration process ruled that the UK owes Iran the debt.

However, since then the UK has failed to repay it, with talks between the countries breaking down over the summer.

Mr Ratcliffe told Sky News that his list of demands includes that the UK pay Iran the money.

“I think that the UK should repay the debt – that’s why Nazanin was taken,” he said.

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

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

“But also they do need to be tougher with Iran on hostage taking,” he said.

“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,” he added.

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