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Richard Ratcliffe’s wife was wrongly jailed and no one will help. What else can he do?

3 53 0
22.06.2019

What a frightful pest Richard Ratcliffe is being – so thoughtless, cluttering up the lovely posh pavement outside the Iranian embassy in Knightsbridge, with his protest against his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s wrongful imprisonment in Iran, where she is serving a five-year sentence for espionage. Another view might be: what else is Ratcliffe supposed to do, when the right to protest is all he has left?

Ratcliffe has joined his wife on a hunger strike, demanding, among other things, her immediate release. He’s just spent the week stationed outside the embassy and plans to stay until at least this weekend, perhaps longer. Ratcliffe has been visited by family members and supporters, including SNP MPs and Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson. One important person Ratcliffe didn’t manage to see, even on Father’s Day, was his young daughter, Gabrielle, who lives in Tehran with her grandparents in order to be able to visit her mum in prison. Lovely.

While the Iranian ambassador, Hamid Baeidinejad, seems not without compassion for Ratcliffe, he has labelled the protest “disruptive”, saying that it blocks the embassy entrance and that staff are being abused by supporters and filmed by the media’s cameras. Baeidinejad has taken up the issue with the Foreign Office, claiming the protest is in breach of the part of the Vienna convention that protects the daily running of embassies. There are also reports that some diplomatic protection for the British embassy in Tehran has been removed in reprisal for the protest.

So it’s a highly charged and delicate situation, but, I ask again, what choice does Ratcliffe have? Zaghari-Ratcliffe is doomed without pressure maintained on her case, a pressure at least partly powered by public and media attention. Nor could........

© The Guardian