The chief executive of the Thomson Reuters Foundation has said she is worried about the health of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian national going on hunger strike over her continuing imprisonment in Iran. Monique Villa said in a statement that Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s “health is already at its poorest” and that she had not received access to serious…
The chief executive of the Thomson Reuters Foundation has said she is worried about the health of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian national going on hunger strike over her continuing imprisonment in Iran.
Monique Villa said in a statement that Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s “health is already at its poorest” and that she had not received access to serious medical care after discovering lumps in her breasts. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is being held in the Evin prison in Tehran, is to begin a three-day hunger strike on Monday.
Villa said: “It is extremely shocking to see our colleague … going on hunger strike to protest at her inhumane treatment in Evin prison, at a time where her health is already at its poorest. I am sincerely worried about the dire consequences of this.
“As her employer, I repeat that Nazanin is totally innocent, and certainly not spy material, as portrayed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
“The Iranian government and judiciary must act immediately, release her and allow urgent treatment before her health deteriorates any further. I call upon those responsible to free her now.”
She added: “This is slow and cruel torture, yet one more injustice inflicted upon her.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, a project manager with Thomson Reuters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the media company, was arrested as she tried to leave Iran in 2016 after taking her infant daughter to visit her family. She is serving a five-year sentence for plotting the “soft toppling” of the country’s government after Iranian prosecutors claimed she ran a course to recruit and train Iranians for the BBC’s Persian service, which Iran considers a propaganda outlet.
Her British husband, Richard Ratcliffe, from Hampstead in north London, said on Saturday his wife was considering extending her protest – her second since being jailed – if her demand to see a doctor was not met. He added that she was concerned her protest would lead to further reprisals from Iranian authorities, in particular that her twice-weekly visits with her four-year-old daughter, Gabriella, would be curtailed.
Iranian state TV last week broadcast footage of the moment intelligence officers arrested Zaghari-Ratcliffe as she pushed a baggage trolley through Tehran’s Imam Khomeini international airport in April 2016.
The broadcast, condemned by her husband as a “cruel psychological game”, showed her being detained then questioned by a representative of the public prosecutor, who tells her he has a warrant for her arrest.
Ratcliffe has said he thinks the video was intended to send a message to the Iranian diaspora: “We can take who we want. No one can stop us. This could happen to you.”