Hunger-striking husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe left frustrated after new talks

Richard Ratcliffe met UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as he continues vigil outside her department

Richard Ratcliffe (C), the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and MP Tulip Siddiq (R) before the meeting with Liz Truss. PA
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The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe said on Thursday he was left frustrated after meeting the fifth UK foreign secretary in post since the charity worker was detained in Iran.

Richard Ratcliffe, who is on a hunger strike in protest at the failure to bring his wife home to the UK, said that Liz Truss indicated there would be no change to government policy.

The meeting came only days before a high-level Iranian delegation travels to the UK for the Cop26 international climate change summit.

"The meeting went as I feared it might in the fact that the foreign secretary didn't actually give us anything new," Mr Ratcliffe said.

"I think we all came away feeling a bit frustrated. The problem is not the minister caring ... but in the end the policy approach wasn't changing."

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 as she prepared to fly back to the UK after visiting her parents with her young daughter. She was sentenced to jail for plotting against the regime, charges that the family and the government have dismissed as fabricated.

She was released into house arrest in March 2020 but remains barred from leaving the country. She was sentenced to a further year behind bars in April but currently remains with her parents in Tehran.

Mr Ratcliffe embarked on his second hunger strike in support of his wife on Sunday. He is camped outside the Foreign Office headquarters in London.

Mr Ratcliffe said after Thursday's meeting that he would continue with his "fairly aggressive tactic" of protesting on the foreign secretary's doorstep.

"We're looking to provoke a reaction, that reaction was a meeting but the meeting was a reiteration of the status quo," he said.

"That's not quite the change we're looking for so we'll keep going."

He was joined by his MP, Tulip Siddiq, who raised the issue of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s continuing plight in the UK Parliament on Monday.

"Going on hunger strike is the absolute last resort for anyone, and Richard told me that he feels there is no other option left, because he feels our government's response to his wife's case has been pitiful," she said.

Mr Ratcliffe and other families of dual citizens detained in Iran believe Britain's failure to pay a £400 million ($550.2m) debt over an aborted arms deal struck during pre-revolution Iran is crucial to the diplomatic impasse.

Updated: October 28, 2021, 2:57 PM