Jeremy Corbyn visits protest tent of husband of jailed Brit in Iran

Ratcliffe camped for 14 nights outside the Iranian embassy as he and Nazanin held a hunger strike in protest of Nazanin's sentence of five years in jail.

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July 1, 2019 12:52
2 minute read.
Jeremy Corbyn visits protest tent of husband of jailed Brit in Iran

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, waves to supporters in Hastings on January 17, days after losing a vote of no-confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May’s government over her Brexit deal. (photo credit: PETER NICHOLLS/REUTERS)

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited the tent of Richard Ratcliffe, whose wife Nazanin was arrested in April 2016 by Iranian intelligence on espionage charges and has been in prison since.

Ratcliffe camped for 14 nights outside the Iranian Embassy in London as he and Nazanin held a hunger strike in protest of his wife's five-year sentence. Nazanin was arrested while visiting her family in Iran in 2016.
Corbyn has often voiced support for the Islamic republic. In early June, he rejected the United States' claim that Iran was behind attacks on oil tankers near Oman.


Corbyn tweeted at the time that "Britain should act to ease tensions in the Gulf, not fuel a military escalation," and added that "without credible evidence about the tanker attacks, the government's rhetoric will only increase the threat of war."


The Labour leader sat with Ratcliffe in his tent for 40 minutes and promised to take up the case with the Iranian ambassador. Last week, Corbyn wore a flower-shaped #FreeNazanin badge along with a number of MPs to the Prime Minister's Questions, a weekly meeting during which MP's can ask the Prime Minister questions.

 


"It was a pleasure and an honour to meet Richard Ratcliffe outside the Iranian embassy," tweeted Corbyn after the meeting with Ratcliffe. "I was moved by his strength, optimism and determination in the face of injustice, and his campaign for the freedom of his wife Nazanin."


Radio Farda pointed out the significance of Corbyn's support for the protest, as it suggests that the Islamic republic can't rely on what some critics see as the silence of the far Left when it comes to Iran's human rights abuses.


Corbyn faced criticism after working for the Iranian state English-language broadcaster Press TV for a few years starting in 2009.


In an interview Corbyn did for Press TV in 2011, he seemingly questioned Israel’s very right to exist while commenting on what he described as media bias towards the Jewish state in the BBC.


Press TV has addressed Ratcliffe's protest by publishing an editorial on their website questioning his motives in campaigning for Nazanin's freedom. The piece accused British media of granting Nazanin celebrity status "misrepresenting her as an ‘innocent mother’ held ‘hostage.’"


The editorial also claimed that it is a "well-known fact" that Ratcliffe "personally benefits from his media engagements," according to Radio Farda.


"If Ratcliffe’s sole aim was to help his wife then he has simply failed in that effort, as none of his stunts have brought Nazanin closer to freedom," read the editorial. "In fact, his efforts have proven to be counterproductive and this gives rise to the disturbing question as to why he persists on the same course of action despite knowing that it exacerbates his wife’s situation."


The editorial concluded saying that Nazanin has "captured the imagination of Britons like no one before."


Jeremy Sharon and Zachary Keyser contributed to this report.


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