Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe may have coronavirus in Iranian prison

Husband of jailed mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe believes she has contracted coronavirus in Iranian prison as he reveals concerns at ‘refusal to test her’

  • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being refused testing for coronavirus in prison 
  • Husband Richard said the mother-of-one had a cold sweat and nausea
  • He called on the Government’s help, and for Boris Johnson to ‘take charge’ 
  • Last week, Jacob Rees-Mogg poured scorn on Iranian denials of virus outbreak
  • Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed by the Iranian regime in Tehran in April 2016 
  • She was accused of plotting a coup, and given a five-year jail sentence

The husband of jailed British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe believes his wife has contracted coronavirus and has slammed the prison’s ‘refusal to test her’. 

Richard Ratcliffe says that mother-of-one Nazanin, 41, has repeatedly asked prison guards at Evin jail in Tehran to test her for the killer super virus.  

She told her family in a phone call: ‘For a long time this has not felt like a normal cold. These symptoms have lasted almost a week.

‘I know I need to get medicine to get better. This does not go magically.’

The British Foreign Office has now called on the Iranian regime to ‘immediately allow’ health professionals into the prison to assess dual nationals.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (pictured) has repeatedly asked prison guards at Evin jail in Tehran to test her for coronavirus, her husband Richard said

Although there are currently no confirmed cases at the prison, Covid-19 has spread rapidly across Iran, with at least 43 dead amid 593 patients identified. 

In an update issued through the Free Nazanin Campaign, Mr Ratcliffe said his wife had seen ‘no improvement’, and called on the Government for help.

He also called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson ‘to take charge’ and ensure that British-Iranian dual nationals held in Evin are ‘diplomatically protected’.

Following reports of conditions at the prison yesterday, Mr Ratcliffe said a new batch of disinfectants, gloves, and masks were made available to the ward.

‘We are concerned by the prison authorities’ refusal to test her and the wider suppression of coronavirus inside the Iranian prison system,’ he said. 

In an update issued through the Free Nazanin Campaign today, Mr Ratcliffe (pictured) said his wife had seen ‘no improvement’ and called on the Government for help 

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: ‘We are urgently seeking information from the Iranian authorities on reports that coronavirus is spreading in Evin prison, including to British-Iranian dual nationals.

‘We call on the Iranian Government to immediately allow health professionals into Evin prison to assess the situation of British-Iranian dual nationals there.’  

Writing for the i newspaper, Mr Ratcliffe said: ‘On Monday we heard reports of cases, on Tuesday of a ward evacuated as a quarantine area.

‘By Wednesday there were rumours of prisoners losing their life, as there had been in other prisons across the country. By Thursday, the judiciary was announcing plans to send eligible prisoners home temporarily.’ 

He also called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson ‘to take charge’ and ensure that British-Iranian dual nationals held in Evin are ‘diplomatically protected’ (pictured with daughter Gabriella)

Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Government was not convinced by the hardline regime’s denials that the global pandemic was affecting inmates at its punishing Evin penitentiary

Mr Radcliffe also described Iran’s initial response to the virus as a ‘bravado’ and ‘a refusal to acknowledge the extent of the problem’. 

Last week, Jacob Rees-Mogg said he would ‘not always take as authoritative’ official Iranian denials of any outbreak of coronavirus at the prison. 

Commons Leader Mr Rees-Mogg told the House: ‘It is a particular concern that the coronavirus has been rumoured – but I emphasise rumoured and not confirmed – to be in the prison in Evin where Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is.

‘The UK Ambassador to Iran has raised this with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we’re in contact with our international partners on this issue.   

‘The Iranian authorities have denied this at the moment, but I must confess I for one would not always take as authoritative denials issued by the Iranian Government.’

He added: ‘The [UK] Government is trying to do what it can in this very serious issue.’

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport while travelling to show her young daughter, Gabriella, to her parents in April 2016.

She was sentenced to five years in prison over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the regime. She was later afforded diplomatic protection by the British Government, which argues that she is innocent and that her treatment by Iran failed to meet obligations under international law.

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