The Thomson Reuters foundation worker was detained in Iran on allegations of spying, and charged with propaganda activities against the country, as well as plotting to overthrow the government. The case against Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was confirmed when Boris Johnson, then acting as Foreign Secretary, stated to the House of Commons that she had been “teaching people journalism” in Iran.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe claims she was in Iran to visit her family.
Mr Ratcliffe has now taken to his second hunger strike in protest of lack of action by the UK Government, in spite of promises by yet another Foreign Secretary.
The husband of the detained Iranian said it had been “pretty cold” during his hunger strike in the last week – but is still urging Downing Street to step up its efforts to bring his wife home and let Iran know there are “consequences” for “playing these games”.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “They (the Government) clearly were working quite hard in the summer to broker a deal and that deal clearly fell apart. Nazanin’s new sentence, which came three weeks ago, is a sign of that.
“The Iranians are threatening it, but they will throw her back in prison quite soon.
Martin Lewis despairs over Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
“So the first ask was that they (the UK) do something to stop that and that there are consequences for Iran for playing these games, which the government wasn’t keen to do.”
Mr Ratcffe added: “I don’t think the Government’s approach to dealing with Iran’s hostage-taking is effective. Five-and-a-half years shows that.”
There are suggestions that Iran is holding the Iranian-born woman over an unpaid debt.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family have reportedly been told by Iranian officials that she is being detained because of this debt.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson rejected reports that have drawn a link between the debt the UK owes Tehran from the non-delivery of Chieftain tanks ordered decades ago and the possible release of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Saeed Khatibzadeh reacted to the reports that British officials have acknowledged efforts to pay a debt to the Iranian government, deploring attempts to link such acknowledgment to her possible release.
He said the UK Government is definitely in debt to Iran for the non-delivery of Chieftain tanks ordered more than 40 years ago “no matter whether a UK Government official acknowledges the debt or not”.
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However, Mr Ratcliffe is convinced the debt holds the key to her release.
He said: “I think they do need to pay their debt – that’s why Nazanin was taken. We’ve lost five-and-a-half years of our lives to unpaid debt and others have been taken since.”
Speaking of how the UK should deal with the situation, Mr Ratcliffe said: “They do need to be a lot tougher with Iran.”
He added he plans to continue his hunger strike for a “few more days” to try to convince the UK Government to take more action.
On his action so far, and future plans, Mr Ratcliffe said: “I’ve written again to the Foreign Office this morning to say, ‘listen, I’m still waiting to hear an answer to the demands – are you going to do any of them?
“So we’ll take it a few more days, but I’m beginning to get a bit creakier, slower mentally, certainly a lot slower physically and I’m feeling the cold. Take it almost one day at a time at this point.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe is currently under house arrest in Tehran and is being monitored by an electronic tag.
Iran and the so-called P4+1 are due to resume talks over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA in the coming weeks.
The United States is attempting to re-enter the deal pulled out of by former President Donald Trump.
Iran states that in order for diplomacy to succeed, a level table is required prior to any agreement taking place.
The US has imposed sanctions on Iran since Mr Trump left the deal.
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