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British-Iranian Woman Launches Hunger Strike To Protest Ongoing Detention In Iran

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (left) with her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, and daughter Gabriella in an undated photo

A British-Iranian charity worker who is being held at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison on sedition charges has begun another hunger strike in protest at her detention.

Forty-year-old Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was refusing food as she marked her daughter's fifth birthday, her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said in a statement on June 15.

"She had informed the judiciary that she has begun a new hunger strike (she will drink water) -- to protest at her continuing unfair imprisonment," he said, adding that he plans to fast outside the Iranian Embassy in London as part of the protest.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested by Iranian authorities in April 2016 as she was trying to board a plane to leave the country after taking their infant daughter to visit her family there. The couple’s daughter, Gabriella, is living with Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s parents in Iran.

She was sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly trying to topple the Iranian government.

"This is something she had been threatening for a while,” Ratcliffe said. “Nazanin had vowed that if we passed Gabriella's fifth birthday with her still inside, then she would do something -- to mark to both governments -- that enough is enough. This really has gone on too long.

"Her demand from the strike, she said, is for unconditional release. She has long been eligible for it," Ratcliffe said. "I do not know the response from the Iranian authorities."

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the media group's philanthropic arm. She denies all of the charges brought against her by Iranian officials.

She previously went on hunger strike in January.

In May, the British government changed its travel advice for British-Iranian dual nationals -- warning them against all travel to Iran and citing Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case.

Based on reporting by The Guardian and AFP