Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘in psychiatric ward’

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Richard Ratcliffe went on hunger strike outside the Iranian embassy in London

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran for alleged spying, is now in a hospital psychiatric ward, her husband says.

Richard Ratcliffe said he feared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard could be isolating his wife in a Tehran hospital to press her to sign denouncements.

It comes after Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, went on hunger strike for 15 days last month in protest at her detention.

The British-American aid worker was detained in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she was leaving the country to return to the United Kingdom with her young daughter after a family visit. She was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly trying to overthrow the Iranian government.

She has denied all charges.

‘Sharp deterioration’ in prison

A statement from the Free Nazanin Campaign said Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s father had visited the hospital on Tuesday, but was barred from seeing her.

“This is unusual. She has now been kept isolated from family or legal contact under IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) control for over 36 hours,” the campaign group said, adding that it was not clear how long she would be held at the hospital or what kind of treatment she would receive there.

Her transfer follows her hunger strike last month in protest at her “unfair imprisonment”, during which time Mr Ratcliffe also did not eat and camped on the pavement outside the Iranian Embassy in London.

The campaign said before being transferred, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe had told relatives: “I was healthy and happy when I came to Iran to see my parents.

“Three and a bit years later and I am admitted to a mental health clinic.

“Look at me now – I ended up in an asylum. It should be an embarrassment.

“Prison is getting harder and harder for me. I hate being played in the middle of a political game. I just hate it.”

Last month, Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her husband ended a two-week hunger strike aimed at pushing for her release and raising awareness about her case.

A psychiatrist recently recommended that she be “instantly hospitalised due to her sharp deterioration since her previous meeting, and the risk of her taking matters into her own hands,” the statement said.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has knocked back calls from British officials for her release and has said that Zaghari-Ratcliffe — a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation — will serve out her full sentence.

 

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