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Free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Depression hits hard as husband Richard set for launch of international campaign against 'state hostage-taking' at UN

PUBLISHED: 00:01 24 September 2019

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with a young Gabriella before Nazanin was arrested in April 2016. Picture: Free Nazanin

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with a young Gabriella before Nazanin was arrested in April 2016. Picture: Free Nazanin

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe "cannot deal with this anymore" and said she no longer "feels herself" as depression hits her hard in Iranian prison.

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of detained Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, outside the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA.Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of detained Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, outside the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA.

According to husband Richard, who on Monday flew to New York to lobby the UN's General Assembly (GA) and is set to launch a new international campaigning group on behalf of families caught up in "state hostage-taking", the West Hampstead woman's mental health struggles have worsened.

Still in Evin Prison, Nazanin has once again been blocked from medical - including psychiatric - treatment, and Richard quoted from his wife's most recent phone calls to him.

He said she told him: "I am despairing, and I know it. Some days I think I can't help myself. When I think I can't manage myself, I just let myself grieve. There is no other way out.

"I can't get over the fact that I am paying the price for some dark politics between Iran and the UK. It is none of my business. It does my head in. Every day. Why me?"

The "draconian" limits on prison visits and phone calls which were imposed when a new head of the prison took power have been relaxed minimally so that Nazanin is able to see her daughter Gabriella once a week, and is able again to call internationally.

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Richard has attended the UN GA every year since Nazanin was arrested while visiting her parents more than three years ago.

Nazanin continued: "I truly hope this will be the last time that you go to New York for the UN.I hope that this time it pays off. We definitely won't be here in a year's time. I cannot go through this way that life is offering me."

This year, Richard has announced a part in the founding of the Families Alliance Against State Hostage-Taking.

The group will have three main aims: To push governments to take do more in cases like Nazanin's, to push the UN to the same end, and to raise awareness of individual cases and state hostage-taking as a wider practice.

He said: "It has been over three years of misdiagnosis - a reluctance to recognise Nazanin and the others as victims of state hostage taking. These are not normal 'consular cases', but innocent people held for leverage in disputes between states.

"States need to do a better job at protecting their citizens. Otherwise the human consequences will continue to fall on innocent, ordinary people.

"The international community has dropped the ball on this for too long."

Last week the European Parliament passed a resolution censuring Iran's actions with regard to Nazanin and others like her, but the UK's Brexit Party MEPs all abstained from voting. Richard said this had "caused confusion and upset in the family, and for Nazanin".

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