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'An agonising wait': Decision on Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release from prison delayed again

The British-Iranian mother has been temporarily freed from Evin Prison in Tehran in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe pictured during her temporary release in her parents’ home.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe pictured during her temporary release in her parents’ home.
Image: Free Nazanin Campaign/PA Images

NAZANIN ZAGHARI-RATCLIFFE faces another “deeply unsettling” couple of days as the wait continues to find out if her temporary release from a prison in Iran has been extended.

The British-Iranian mother was temporarily freed from Evin Prison in Tehran in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s furlough was extended by two weeks in late March, and she was scheduled to return to prison yesterday.

When her family had not received a decision yesterday on whether or not her release is to be extended, they were told to return to the Prosecutors Office in Iran today – but have now been told to come back on Tuesday.

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said: “Nazanin’s father and lawyer were separately told to come back on Tuesday. No news on clemency, no news on furlough extension.

“The president announced today that non-dangerous prisoners on furlough have it extended for another month.

“According to her lawyer, this means furlough has been automatically extended for non-political prisoners.

“For political prisoners like Nazanin, the extension needs to be confirmed by the Prosecutors Office in co-ordination with the prison – and will be allowed for those only with a record of good behaviour, not speaking out in the media etc.

“For the cases of most of the political prisoners that we are aware of, people have been told to come back on Tuesday for another update.”

2.49785116 File photo of Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her father Richard outside Number 10 Downing Street. Source: Stefan Rousseau/PA Images

Ratcliffe, who lives in London with their daughter, added: “It has become deeply unsettling for Nazanin to have this to and fro every other day. Some days it really feels like gratuitous power games.

“But now we look to Tuesday, and hope for them to be brave, and take the next step in letting her go.”

‘Agonising wait’ 

Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq tweeted: “I’ve just heard from Richard, Nazanin’s husband, that she is still not sure if her furlough will be extended and must ask again on Tuesday.

“The agonising wait continues with no certainty, but still the possibility for good news exists.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been living in relative isolation at her parents’ house in Tehran while the country gets to grips with the coronavirus outbreak.

She has to wear an ankle tag during the furlough, and can only go within a 300-metre range of her parents’ home.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport while travelling to bring her young daughter, Gabriella, to her parents in April 2016.

She was sentenced to five years in prison over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Tehran government.

She was later afforded diplomatic protection by the UK government, which argues that she is innocent and that her treatment by Iran failed to meet obligations under international law.

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