Boris Johnson hits out at Iran with British woman's fate still unclear despite ankle tag being removed


Iran frees British-Iranian aid worker Zaghari-Ratcliffe – her lawyer says


Iran frees British-Iranian aid worker Zaghari-Ratcliffe – her lawyer says

Reuters::Sky::

Iran has released British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, her lawyer Hojjat Kermani told Iranian website Emtedad on Sunday, after her five-year prison sentence for plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment.

“She was pardoned by Iran’s Supreme Leader last year, but spent the last year of her term under house arrest with electronic shackles tied to her feet. Now they’re cast off,” Kermani told the website. “She has been freed.”

Iran’s judiciary officials have yet to comment about the release.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said it is “totally unacceptable” that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is unable to leave Iran after her sentence ended.

The dual UK-Iran citizen has been held in the country for five years over claims she plotted to overthrow the government – which she denies.

On Sunday, the ankle tag to track her location was removed but she faces a new court date next week.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe‘s lawyer told Sky News she had been released after her sentence expired and could now move around, as long as she does not leave the country.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, called it a “mixed” development as she is still unable to return to the UK, but said his wife was happy the ankle tag was off.

“Pleased to see the removal of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle tag,” tweeted Boris Johnson.

“But her continued confinement remains totally unacceptable. She must be released permanently so she can return to her family in the UK, and we continue to do all we can to achieve this.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “Iran’s continued treatment of her is intolerable”.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran airport while taking her infant daughter to see her parents in April 2016.

The 42-year-old was later jailed over allegations she plotting to overthrow the government.

The Briton’s sister-in-law told Sky News she joined a video call to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe earlier on Sunday.

Rebecca Ratcliffe said she appeared “upbeat” and “pleased” the tag was gone.

But she said there was nervousness over the announcement of a new court date next Sunday – in front of the same judge who sentenced her last time.

The family are uncertain if it will just be a formality to return her passport, or whether a new sentence will be handed down.

“We don’t know and I think there’s a few more sleepless nights ahead of us,” said Ms Ratcliffe.

Tulip Siddiq, the detained Briton’s MP in north London, said she feared the court date could result in “fake charges” to extend her sentence.

It was not immediately clear whether she was allowed to leave Iran. Kermani was quoted as saying that “a hearing for Zaghari’s second case has been scheduled at branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran” according to the website.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at a Tehran airport in April 2016 as she prepared to head back to Britain with her daughter after a family visit.

She was later sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment. Her family and the foundation, a charity that operates independently of media firm Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters, deny the charge.

She was released from jail in March last year and put under house arrest in Tehran in response to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in Iran’s prisons, but her movements were restricted and she was barred from leaving the country.

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