Journo Jessie hopes her interview helps hunger striker Richard Ratcliffe’s case

Date 17.11.2021

A University of Northampton journalist hopes her interview with protestor Richard Ratcliffe will help the hunger striker’s bid to see his wife released from an Iranian prison.

Jessie George interviewed Mr Ratcliffe on day 16 of his 21-day hunger strike outside the Foreign Office, as he demanded the government does more to secure his wife’s release from Iran.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran for five years on spying charges and lost an appeal against a second jail sentence in October.

Mr Ratcliffe’s case has been followed keenly by the national press, but 18 year old Jessie, who is a first year Multimedia Journalism student, has also played her part in raising awareness of his case.

She was able to speak to Mr Ratcliffe on Monday 8 November, while she was visiting London as part of a course visit to the capital. He ended his protest a few days later, on Saturday 13 November.

“I had heard about Nazanin’s situation before I had even come to university, so to be speaking to her husband felt quite surreal,” said Jessie, who is from Stafford. “But I knew Richard was aiming for as much coverage as possible to bring attention to his protest, so I was very happy to be able to help his cause.”

The experience gave Jessie an insight into the emotions a reporter can go through during an interview.

She said: “Speaking to him was harder than I imagined. He was quiet, subdued and admitted himself that he was feeling very weak. As he was on day 16 with no food, I almost felt bad for taking his energy that he needed to conserve so badly. However, Richard made it very clear that he wanted as much attention as possible around his hunger strike so he was very willing to answer my questions.”

After speaking to Mr Ratcliffe, Jessie is confident the British Government will do more to help the Ratcliffes’ case.

She said: “I do believe that his actions will force the Government to act, purely because I know that Richard will not stop. He is willing to be the Government’s biggest nuisance until they listen to his demands. The hunger strike did eventually result in a meeting between him and government officials, and even though he described it as ‘disappointing’, it is one step closer to freeing Nazanin.

“Finally, the Government has noticed his efforts.”