Tehran detainee's UK husband marks day 10 on hunger strike

Ratcliffe, husband of British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who is imprisoned in Iran, has been on hunger strike for 10 days outside the Iranian embassy in London (AFP Photo/ISABEL INFANTES)

London (AFP) - A Briton whose wife is being held in a Tehran jail marked his 10th day on hunger strike outside the Iranian embassy in London on Monday.

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Iranian-British dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, urged the next British prime minister to make her case a priority.

Ratcliffe is already well acquainted with both candidates: Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his predecessor Boris Johnson.

One of the two will replace Prime Minister Theresa May in the week beginning July 22.

"My job would be, whoever the prime minister is, to push very hard for Nazanin's case," Ratcliffe told AFP.

"It is not my job to play politics between who should be prime minister or not... but to make sure that Nazanin's case is top priority."

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, is also refusing food in a Tehran prison as she marks her daughter Gabriella's fifth birthday.

She was arrested in April 2016 as she was leaving Iran after taking their infant daughter to visit her family. She was sentenced to five years for allegedly trying to topple the Iranian government.

A project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the media group's philanthropic arm, she denies all charges.

Before Johnson quit his Foreign Office post in July 2018, he made a blunder which Ratcliffe said continues to affect his wife.

Johnson said in parliament in 2017 that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was teaching journalists in Iran.

"Even the interrogators yesterday were again saying that, 'Listen, your foreign secretary then confirmed you were there working, you were doing something.' They know it's not true, I know it's not true, Nazanin knows it's not true but it's still used," said Ratcliffe.

"She was on holiday and he took a very long time to apologise, there was all sorts of contortions about it.

"There is still an effort by the former foreign secretary and his allies to pretend there were not consequences, when there really were," said Ratcliffe, who looked exhausted after 10 days camping outside the Iranian embassy.

He spoke to his wife on Sunday. She said she had been interrogated again.

Their daughter is being looked after by her maternal grandparents in Iran.

Ratcliffe said he was getting weaker and slower as his hunger strike progresses.

He was joined outside the embassy by a small group of supporters. Several messages of support, postcards and flowers have been fixed to the railings behind him.

Britain sent its Middle East minister to Tehran for talks on Sunday.