The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe said “for now” he would continue his hunger strike outside Britain’s Foreign Office as he enters day 10 of his protest in support of his wife.
Supporters said Richard Ratcliffe was firm in his resolve to persuade the UK to be more assertive in its dealings with Iran despite the weather becoming colder in central London.
Mr Ratcliffe said he was “mentally and physically a bit slower, and I get tired more, so lots of sitting down. But still continuing for now”.
The protest followed a meeting last week with UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. Mr Ratcliffe expressed his frustration that there has been no change of direction or new ideas under the new minister.
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 dismiss as fabricated.
She was released into house arrest in March 2020 but is barred from leaving the country. She was sentenced to a further year behind bars in April but is still with her parents in Tehran.
The family of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and another jailed British dual citizen, Anoosheh Ashoori, have linked their cases to a decades-old unpaid UK debt of about £400 million ($545.6 million) after an aborted arms deal before the 1979 revolution. The dispute is continuing through the courts and the UK says repayment is complicated by sanctions imposed on Iran.
Mr Ratcliffe’s protest continues as an Iranian delegation prepares to travel to the UK to visit the Cop26 climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
The Iranian delegation, led by Ali Salajegheh the vice-president and head of the environment department, is scheduled to attend from November 8 in the final week of the conference, according to the Iran Press news agency.
Rupert Skilbeck, director of the family’s legal advisers Redress, said that Mr Ratcliffe was "in a weakened state but firm in his resolve to highlight the need for the UK to take a more robust approach in his wife’s case.
“It’s a blinding paradox that representatives of the regime that is holding Nazanin hostage are allowed to come to the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow while Nazanin, a British citizen, can’t return home to her family.”