British-Iranian woman begins fresh hunger strike in Tehran prison

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband to join her on hunger strike

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband to join her on hunger strike

She was sentenced to five years in jail on espionage charges, accusations she denies.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe told her husband that if her daughter turned 5 while she was still in jail, she would do something to "mark to both governments that enough is enough". My job is to serve as an amplifier and not let her strike pass unnoticed.

Amnesty's campaign for Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release has been supported by nearly 200,000 people, and a number of Amnesty supporters are expected to visit Richard Ratcliffe outside the Iranian Embassy in central London in the coming days to offer their moral support as he embarks on a solidarity protest on behalf of his wife.

Her family denies the allegations.

Mr Ratcliffe said he spoke to his wife on the phone today and she sounded "nervous, but calm". "This really has gone on too long", he said.

In March this year, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt granted Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protect, but Tehran has refused to acknowledge her dual nationality.

Reacting to the news that she had begun a hunger strike, Hunt on Saturday sent a message to Iran via Twitter, urging the Iranian government to "do the right thing, show the world your humanity & let this innocent woman home".

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to the United Kingdom with her daughter, Gabriella, after a family visit.

Earlier this week (11 June), the couple's daughter Gabriella had her fifth birthday and Richard Ratcliffe will hold a candle-lit event (at approximately 8.30pm) marking this milestone outside the embassy on Sunday.

Gabriella has not been allowed to leave Iran following her mother's arrest and is living with her maternal grandparents.

Mr Ratcliffe said: "I vowed last time that if she ever went on hunger strike again, we would not leave her to go through this ordeal alone". "She has always been eligible for it", Ratcliffe said.

Mr Ratcliffe, who is calling for his wife's immediate release, urged the Iranian authorities to allow British embassy officials to visit her to check on her health.

Amnesty International UK's director Kate Allen said her plight was "truly heartbreaking".

"Given Nazanin's decision, later today I will also begin a continual vigil in front of the Iranian embassy, perhaps occasionally joined by friends and family".

This is something she had been threatening for a while.

It comes amid growing tensions between the United Kingdom and Iran, after Britain said the Iranian regime was "almost certainly" responsible for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

Richard Ratcliffe, husband of jailed British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, speaks with supporters as he stages a vigil outside the Iranian embassy in London on Saturday.

He also said if the mother of his child is not released he wants a visa so he can travel to Iran and meet with her.