Detained foreigners on spying charges in Iran go on hunger strike


Dual British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who was jailed in 2016 while on holiday in Iran on purported spying charges, is to go on hunger strike in a show of solidarity for other imprisoned dual national, British-Australian Kylie Moore-Gilbert.

Ms Moore-Gilbert has refused food over her demands to be moved out of solitary confinement, The Guardian newspaper reported.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has already embarked on one hunger strike in solidarity with the British-Australian academic and will reportedly begin again before the New Year.

“Five days on dry hunger strike is becoming critical, and our thoughts go out to Kylie and her family for all this ordeal,” said her husband Richard Ratcliffe, who has campaigned for her release.

“It gives some sense of just how desperate 16 months in solitary makes you. At some point you really feel you have nothing left to get noticed, nothing left to lose.”

Tehran has tried to block increased media attention towards the jailed dual nationals.

Iranian authorities have said Dr Moore-Gilbert and French-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah, who is also on hunger strike, will serve their full prison terms.

Dr Moore-Gilbert has been in custody in Iran for 14 months.

The spying charge against her was not made public by Iranian authorities until some time after she was sentenced to 10 years in prison in September this year.

Ms Adelkhah’s arrest for alleged espionage was confirmed in July. She is a specialist in Shiite Islam and a research director at Sciences Po University, France.

On Thursday, the university said that both women started a hunger strike on December 24.

The families of the prisoners, including Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, maintain their loved ones are being held as hostages by the Iran for political leverage.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Dr Moore-Gilbert met last week in Evin prison where they are being held. Mr Ratcliffe tweeted that the pair had a brief encounter.

“Before the guards pulled them apart, Nazanin was able to tell Kylie that the world is watching her story and it will be OK,” he wrote.

France has summoned Iran’s ambassador over the imprisonment of Ms Adelkhah and another academic, Roland Marchal.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has accused France of interfering in the case of an Iranian national.

“The statement by France’s Foreign Ministry regarding an Iranian national is an act of interference and we see their request to have no legal basis,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said. (Source: The National)