Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 31 May 2020

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe temporarily released from Iran prison

The jailed charity worker will be released with an ankle tag until April 4

Nazanin at her parents’ home in west Tehran after her temporary release from Evin jail. Free Nazanin Campaign
Nazanin at her parents’ home in west Tehran after her temporary release from Evin jail. Free Nazanin Campaign

Jailed British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been temporarily released from an Iranian prison for more than two weeks, her husband said on Tuesday.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been told to wear an ankle tag and her movements have been restricted to within 300 metres of her parents’ home in Iran, Richard Ratcliffe said. She will stay out of prison until April 4.

“I am so happy to be out,” she said. “Even with the ankle tag, I am so happy. Being out is so much better than being in. If you knew what hell this place is.

"Let us hope it will be the beginning of coming home.”

Md Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained since April 2016 after a visit with her young daughter to visit her Iranian parents.

She was jailed for five years for unspecified espionage offences. Her family and supporters say she is a pawn in a political game between London and Tehran.

Nazanin on FaceTime to her husband, Richard Ratcliffe. Free Nazanin Campaign
Nazanin on FaceTime to her husband, Richard Ratcliffe. Free Nazanin Campaign

Mr Ratcliffe said his wife, who is at her parents’ home in west Tehran, is the only prisoner released in the past few weeks who has been required to wear an ankle tag and had to pay for it.

“This makes her release more comparable to house arrest than the standard furlough arrangement that has been granted to other prisoners in Evin this week,” he said.

Mr Ratcliffe said he urged the Iranian government to release all UK dual-nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran, and enable them to return to their families in the UK.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Parliament earlier on Tuesday that he had raised the case of jailed dual nationals, including Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in a phone call on Monday.

"There is no excuse for not releasing all dual-nationals," Mr Raab said.

He said that securing their release was his priority.

Iran has temporarily released 85,000 prisoners to try to fight coronavirus, which has killed 853 people and infected almost 15,000.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said half of those were "security-related prisoners".

Sherry Izadi, wife of jailed British-Iranian dual national Anoosheh Ashoori, told The National her husband was still in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.

Mr Ashoori, 65, was arrested in 2017 while on a visit to see his mother in Tehran, accused of spying for Mossad.

He was recently moved to a ward in Evin Prison in which he said coronavirus victims had been held.

The family of Dubai-based businessman Siamak Namazi say his request to be temporarily released from Evin Prison was refused.

Mr Namazi, a US-Iranian national who had lived in the UAE since 2007, was jailed for 10 years for espionage in 2016 in what his family claim were trumped-up charges.

Iranian media reported on Tuesday that Mr Zarif had raised with Mr Raab the issue of US sanctions, which Tehran claims is an obstacle to fighting the spread of Covid-19.

Days earlier, the Iranian ambassador to the UK told an Iranian newspaper that talks between the two countries had taken place to resolve a financial dispute over the non-delivery of tanks and arms after the 1979 revolution.

It was the first time that an Iranian official has admitted that talks to pay off the £400 million debt were taking place.

“Finalising the payment method requires a mutual agreement,” Hamid Baeidinejad told Etemad newspaper.

“Talks are under way to determine the details of how the agreements will be implemented.”

The UK previously said it could not pay the debt to Iran because it is subject to US and EU sanctions.

The families of Mr Ashoori and Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe have said they believe settlement of the debt is essential to secure their permanent release.

“Ministers should also be doing absolutely everything they can to make this release permanent," said Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s MP in Britain, Tulip Siddiq.

“This includes resolving the debt we owe to Iran and making Nazanin’s case a deal-breaker in their ongoing negotiations with the Iranian government.”

Updated: March 18, 2020 01:43 AM

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