Husband also ends strike outside Iranian embassy in London after wife takes food

The imprisoned British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has ended her hunger strike after 15 days.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, who had been holding his own hunger strike outside the Iranian embassy in London in solidarity, said on Saturday his wife had eaten some porridge and fruit.

“I’m relieved because I wouldn’t have wanted her to push it much longer,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. “I had a phone call this morning and it’s good news. She’s decided to stop her hunger strike, which means that I’ll be stopping it.

“It was getting hard for me but I’m sure it was much harder for her. She said that she’d had some breakfast this morning.”


Imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran

3 April 2016

Arrest in Tehran

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is arrested at Imam Khomeini airport as she is trying to return to Britain after a holiday visiting family with her daughter, Gabriella.


Release campaign begins

Her husband, Richard Radcliffe, delivers a letter to David Cameron in 10 Downing Street, demanding the government do more for her release.

9 September 2016


She is sentenced to five years in jail. Her husband says the exact charges are still being kept a secret.

November 2016

Hunger strike

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s health deteriorates after she spends several days on hunger strike in protest at her imprisonment.

24 April 2017

Appeal fails

Iran’s supreme court upholds her conviction.

1 November 2017

Boris Johnson intervenes

Boris Johnson, then Foreign Secretary, tells a parliamentary select committee “When we look at what [she] was doing, she was simply teaching people journalism”. Four days after his comments, Zaghari-Ratcliffe is returned to court, where his statement is cited in evidence against her. Her employers, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, deny that she has ever trained journalists, and her family maintain she was in Iran on holiday. Johnson is eventually forced to apologise for the “distress and anguish” his comments cause the family.

12 November 2017

Health concerns

Her husband reveals that Zaghari-Ratcliffe has fears for her health after lumps had been found in her breasts that required an ultrasound scan, and that she was now “on the verge of a nervous breakdown”.

3 August 2018

Hunt meets husband

New Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt meets with Richard Ratcliffe, and pledges “We will do everything we can to bring her home.”

23 August 2018

Temporary release

She is granted a temporary three day release from prison.

14 January 2019

Hunger strike

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is on hunger strike again, in protest at the withdrawal of her medical care.

8 March 2019

Diplomatic protection

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt takes the unusual step of granting her diplomatic protection – a move that raises her case from a consular matter to the level of a dispute between the two states.

17 May 2019

Travel warning

The UK upgrades its travel advice to British-Iranian dual nationals, for the first time advising against all travel to Iran. The advice also urges Iranian nationals living in the UK to exercise caution if they decide to travel to Iran.

15 June 2019

Hunger strike in London

Richard Ratcliffe joins his wife in a new hunger strike campaign. He fasts outside the Iranian embassy in London as she began a third hunger strike protest in prison.

29 June 2019

Hunger strike ends

Zaghari-Ratcliffe ends her hunger strike by eating some breakfast. Her husband also ends his strike outside the embassy.

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Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual citizen, has been detained in Tehran since April 2016 accused of espionage.

More than 100 MPs visited Ratcliffe over the last two weeks to show their support for his cause, including the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and the Conservative House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow.

During prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Corbyn and dozens of other Labour MPs wore “Free Nazanin” badges.

Free Nazanin (@FreeNazanin)

1/2 Richard got a phone call from Nazanin from Evin prison this morning – to announce that she has broken her hunger strike. She had broken her strike with banana and apple and a small bit of porridge. Richard’s strike will also end today and we will be packing down our camp.

June 29, 2019

Free Nazanin (@FreeNazanin)

2/2 Thanks to everyone who has supported us so overwhelmingly these past 2 weeks – friends, family, all the MPs, but most of all, the lovely people who have come from around the country to sign our visitors book or bring flowers or send messages of care. #FreeNazanin

June 29, 2019

Ratcliffe said his wife had been feeling nauseous over the last few days.

“She’d obviously been under quite a lot of pressure from the Revolutionary Guards, so [it was] quite stressful to break it. I think she’ll go to the clinic as soon as possible – there’s a clinic inside prison which isn’t open today – to do a blood test,” he said.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at an airport in 2016 as she headed back to the UK with her daughter, Gabriella, after visiting relatives. She was sentenced to five years in prison.

It is thought the couple’s daughter, who is five and living with her grandparents in Iran, has been deprived of weekly visits to her mother because the authorities have been angered by the high-profile protest.

Of his own experience, Ratcliffe said he had been more fragile but had got through it.

“My experience has been sitting on a doorstep with lots of people coming up with flowers and cards and messages of support, so it’s been emotionally great but physically challenging.”

He said Gabriella knew her parents were on hunger strike, and knew they could drink but not eat. “She took it at face value really. She liked the tents, she liked the fact that people had brought presents. She knows now that mummy and daddy are stopping.”

On Friday, Ratcliffe’s mother, Barbara, said she had been told to “get him into a taxi and go straight to A&E” as soon as the strike ended.

Tulip Siddiq, who is the Labour MP for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s consituency, expressed relief at the news and said it “shames those in power that they had to go through that torture in the first place”.

The former cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom tweeted: “It is heart breaking that this couple are still apart, and their daughter is still unable to be with her mother. UK is doing everything possible to see them reunited.”

During Ratcliffe’s hunger strike, the pavement outside the embassy turned into a hub of protest, with hundreds of cards and messages decorating a large corrugate iron barrier erected in an attempt to block him off. Ratcliffe received post from around the world addressed to him at “the tent outside the Islamic Republic of Iran embassy”.

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