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Family Of Imprisoned British-Iranian Concerned About Coronavirus Infection


British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (L) with her husband Richard Ratcliffe and daughter Gabriella, undated.

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who has been in prison in Iran since April 2016 says she is badly ill and not improving. They suspect she may have been infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) in prison.

In a statement published on February 29, the Free Nazanin Campaign said they could confirm that she now believes she has contracted coronavirus inside Evin Prison, in large part due to lack of hygiene materials for prisoners.

"We are concerned by the prison authorities' refusal to test her, and the wider suppression of coronavirus inside the Iranian prison system," the statement said.

Free Nazanin Campaign also called on the UK government to insist that Nazanin is tested for coronavirus immediately and is treated properly. "We further call on the Prime Minister to take charge as part of his coronavirus efforts to ensure that British-Iranians held hostage in Evin Prison are diplomatically protected," Mr Ratcliffe was quoted by ITV as saying.

Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, had earlier said that his wife had a bad cold and severe soar throat. Mr. Ratcliffe on Friday told Britain's Daily Mail conditions in Evin prison have been 'worsening' over the past few months and lack of medicine, disinfectant, bleach and antiseptic in prison shops has forced prisoners to depend on washing liquid to stay clean, while the guards enjoy a supply of essentials.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested in April 2016 at Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter after a family visit and was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran's clerical establishment.

On February 23 the families of 14 political figures who have been imprisoned for demanding Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's resignation, in a letter to Iran's Chief Justice Ebrahim Raeesi said the Judiciary will be responsible if coronavirus infection spreads among inmates and a "massive human tragedy" occurs in prisons.

Since Thursday Iranian news agencies have reported the temporary release of a number of prisoners including a political prisoner and a journalist. After unconfirmed reports about coronavirus cases in two Iranian prisons and warnings of human rights activists, on Wednesday Chief Justice Ebrahim Raeesi (Raisi) issued an order to allow some prisoners to go on furlough after "posting suitable bail".

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