US ex-diplomat ends hunger strike as prisoners continue protest

Barry Rosen, 77, finished his protest at the insistence of his family

Barry Rosen, a US citizen, was held hostage in Iran more than 40 years ago. He ended his hunger strike in Vienna after five days. AP
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A US survivor of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis has ended his hunger strike in support of political prisoners held by Tehran.

Barry Rosen, 77, a former US diplomat, went on hunger strike for five days and was joined by current former inmates. They will continue their protest.

Mr Rosen had been on strike to demand the release of US, British, French, German, Austrian and Swedish prisoners in Iran.

He said that no agreement should be reached to revive the 2015 nuclear deal without their release.

He ended his protest at the request of his family after the lead US nuclear negotiator said no deal was likely to be struck with Iran without the release of the hostages.

On Monday, the US special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, told Reuters it would be “very hard” to get back to the deal while four Americans were held.

Mr Rosen was one of more than 50 US diplomats held during the 1979-81 hostage crisis. He started his strike to mark 41 years since his release after 44 days in Washington’s embassy in Tehran.

He said at least 24 western prisoners remain in Iran and were being used as bargaining chips by the regime.

Detained British prisoner Anoosheh Ashoori, 67, who is being held in Tehran’s Evin jail, will continue to refuse food after starting a hunger strike on Sunday. He has been held for more than four years on charges of spying for Israel.

“Needless to say, we are extremely concerned for his physical health as he approaches his 68th birthday,” his wife, Sherry Izadi, said. She said her husband felt he had little option other than to start a hunger strike in “the hope of bringing global attention to the plight of these individuals held by Iran”.

Nizar Zakka, a former prisoner from Lebanon who was released in 2019, has joined the protest along with Kamran Ghaderi, who holds Austrian and Iranian citizenship. He was arrested in January 2016 while on a routine business trip.

The prosecution used a coerced confession by Mr Ghaderi to secure a 10-year prison sentence against him in the Revolutionary Court, where he was tried for “conducting espionage for enemy states”.

Updated: January 24, 2022, 4:55 PM