Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian mother jailed in Iran on espionage charges, believes she has contracted coronavirus in Evin Prison outside Tehran, according to a family statement released Saturday.
Although authorities have not tested Zaghari-Ratcliffe for the virus, she says in the statement that she has been sick for “all week” and describes her symptoms as those reported of the coronavirus:
“I am not good. I feel very bad in fact…. At the beginning I had a runny nose and a cough. Now I have this continual cold sweat I have a temperature, though not all the time. The past couple of days I have been shivering every night.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, now 42, was arrested in 2016. The Iranian government accused her of working with organizations allegedly attempting to overthrow the regime. She was sentenced to five years in jail.
Her husband wants her tested immediately
Zaghari-Ratcliffe called her family on Saturday to update them on her health, the wider conditions in the ward and the apparent reluctance of the prison to test her for the virus.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, believes his wife contracted the coronavirus due “in large part due to the lack of hygiene materials made available to the prisoners” in Evin political prison.
“We are concerned by the prison authorities’ refusal to test her, and the wider suppression of coronavirus inside the Iranian prison system,” he said.
He called on “the UK government to insist that Nazanin is tested for coronavirus immediately, and is treated properly.”
There has been an outbreak of coronavirus moving through Iran and human rights organizations have expressed concern that the virus has also struck also struck the prison population
At least 43 people have died in Iran and there have been over 500 confirmed cases.
CNN has reached out to the Iranian authorities for comment.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said the British government is “urgently seeking information” from Iranian officials. It called on authorities to immediately allow health professionals into Evin to check on Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016 while attempting to return home to London after visiting family with her daughter Gabriella, who was then 22 months old. She was sentenced to five years in jail and her child was placed in the care of her parents.
She undertook a hunger strike in an attempt to receive medical treatment, as her husband said that prison guards had asked her to spy on the UK in return for her freedom.
Her employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, rejects the allegations. In May 2018, Iranian media reported that she was due to face a new trial for “security-related” charges.
In August 2018, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was treated in hospital after suffering panic attacks, her husband said. The attacks came just days after she returned to prison after she was temporarily released to spend time with her family and daughter.