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For Jailed Mom: 2 Hunger Strikes, 4K Miles Apart

Goal is release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2019 12:25 PM CDT
Richard Ratcliffe holds a photo of his wife and daughter during his vigil outside the Iranian Embassy in London on Sunday.   (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)
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(Newser) – A British-Iranian charity worker has begun her third hunger strike in a Tehran prison where she's held for spying. The twist this time is that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, Richard Ratcliffe, is engaged in a hunger strike of his own outside the Iranian Embassy in London as the pair seek to end Zaghari-Ratcliffe's detention since 2016. "Hunger strikes in prison can be ignored whereas on your doorstep is a different thing," Ratcliffe tells CNN, which reports he's consuming only water and mint tea. He pitched a tent outside the embassy on Saturday, the same day his wife began her strike, per the New York Times. "Being here is meant to be a very visible presence to say, 'This is unacceptable. You are holding an innocent person,'" he said.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a program director at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, traveled to Iran with the couple's daughter in 2016 to visit family. She was detained as she tried to return home to the UK and soon after sentenced to five years in prison for plotting to overthrow Iran's government—a charge she denies. Daughter Gabriella, who turned 5 on June 11, has been living with her maternal grandparents in Iran ever since, reports the BBC. Ratcliffe has not been allowed to meet with Iranian officials to understand "what they are doing and why they are doing it," he tells the Times. He has the support of Amnesty International and British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. After meeting with Ratcliffe on Saturday, Hunt had this to say to Iran: "DO THE RIGHT THING ... & LET THIS INNOCENT WOMAN HOME." (The country just freed a man accused of spying for the US.)

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