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Free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Phone call and visit limits have 'devastated' Nazanin, while husband Richard demands more from UK government

PUBLISHED: 17:52 20 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:54 20 August 2019

Nazanin and Gabriella  Ratcliffe

Nazanin and Gabriella Ratcliffe

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"Draconian" new prison rules have left Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe "in a desperate state" in Iran's Evin prison, husband Richard told the Ham&High.

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of detained Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, outside the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London. Ratcliffe has today ended his hunger strike after his imprisoned wife ended her own hunger strike after 15 days in an Iran jail.Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of detained Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, outside the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London. Ratcliffe has today ended his hunger strike after his imprisoned wife ended her own hunger strike after 15 days in an Iran jail.

The West Hampstead woman was "devastated" on Monday after the limits were put in place - she is now unable to make international phone calls to Richard, while family visits have been slashed to just once a month.

Meanwhile, Richard has reiterated his call for new Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to meet with him - he has not heard from either man since Mr Johnson took office.

Richard told this newspaper: "It came out of the blue. If we had this conversation last week, I would have complained about the government not doing very much but we weren't expecting these pretty draconian rules."

The changes came in with a new prison head, and that although it didn't feel deliberately targeted and he hoped the regime would be temporary, Nazanin was "absolutely devastated".

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been in prison since 2016. Picture: Family of Nazanin Zaghari-RatcliffeNazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been in prison since 2016. Picture: Family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

"Yesterday she was in her cell crying all day." he said.

He said that if the limit on visits was not relaxed, Nazanin "will be in a very vulnerable place" and likely to consider another hunger strike sooner than she may have otherwise.

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Richard called again on Boris Johnson's government to meet with him, and said he wanted to see it take a firmer stand with Iran.

He added: "We are in limbo. We are looking to see how important we are [to Boris Johnson's government] and we'll see that by how quickly we get to meet. I met with Jeremy Hunt within his first week. I have not heard from Dominic Raab or Boris Johnson yet.

"I think we are a Prime Minister-level situation now, and given the role of the Prime Minister in her case, I expect him to signal that she matters. The second thing is to find out what they are actually going to do."

Well over 1,000 days since Nazanin was first detained, Richard said it was fine criticising Iran, but the UK needed to step up, too.

"I think the government has been asking nicely for quite along time," he said. "Now there needs to be a restatement of common values - speaking out plainly that hostage taking is not ok from Iran or anyone else."

"We are very much a political issue."

Richard, who has been part of the British Rights Abroad group whose petition to get the government to improve legislative protections for British citizens detained overseas, said that group had also yet to get a response to their demands.
The coalition of families think the government should be obligated to step in.

Richard said: "That's one thing that came out of the hunger strike. We'll be looking to get a cross-party group of MPs together and take this forward."

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