British-Iranian woman's health deteriorates in Iran prison

British-Iranian woman's health deteriorates in Iran prison

A British-Iranian woman who has been jailed in Iran since 2016 began a hunger strike Monday in a desperate attempt to receive medical treatment, as her husband said that prison guards had asked her to spy on the United Kingdom in return for her freedom.

Her British husband, Richard Ratcliffe, from Hampstead in north London, said on Saturday his wife was considering extending her protest - her second since being jailed - if her demand to see a doctor was not met.

The interrogators visited Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe on December 29, the day after she marked 1,000 days in prison, Mr Ratcliffe told reporters on Monday as the pair started their hunger strike.

The foreign secretary, according to the BBC, has praised Zaghari-Ratcliffe for her bravery and endurance and criticised Iran for allowing "an innocent mother to feel she needs to resort to a hunger strike" to call for attention.

The broadcast, condemned by her husband as a "cruel psychological game", showed her being detained then questioned by a representative of the public prosecutor, who tells her he has a warrant for her arrest.

She was arrested in April 2016 on unspecified charges after visiting her parents in Iran with her daughter Gabriella, now aged four.

Specific demands were made to snoop on the Department for International Development and London-based organisation Small Media, he added.

Ratcliffe was set to meet UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt later on Monday to discuss the case. "She has been terrified ever since".

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On Sunday, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and fellow prisoner Narges Mohammedi met with Abbas Khani, the head of the clinic at Evin Prison, located in the outskirts of the country's capital, but failed to get written assurances regarding treatment.

Iranian state TV last week broadcast footage of the moment intelligence officers arrested Zaghari-Ratcliffe as she pushed a baggage trolley through Tehran's Imam Khomeini global airport in April 2016.

Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, said it was "extremely shocking to see our colleague. going on hunger strike to protest at her inhumane treatment".

She also said her employee has suffered "severe depression" in custody and reiterated she is not guilty of espionage.

He was quoted as saying he had explained to Mr Hunt that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was considered an Iranian national and was entitled to her rights in prison - including access to medical facilities.

"We continue to take action on all our consular cases in Iran in line with what we believe will produce the best outcomes in their cases", the spokeswoman added.

Redress argues that her release should be secured by Britain granting her diplomatic protection, a process under worldwide law that states can enact to obtain repatriation for an illegal act against one of their nationals.

British officials have routinely sought Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release in talks with Iranian leaders.

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