Iran releases British-Iranian aid worker Zaghari-Ratcliffe from house arrest but court summons looms

A British-Iranian aid worker, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, poses for a photo after she was released in Tehran, Iran March 7, 2021   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Iran has released British-Iranianaid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from house arrest at theend of her five-year prison sentence, but she has been summonedto court again on another charge, her lawyer said on Sunday.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at a Tehran airport in Apri 2016 and later convicted of plotting to overthrow the clericalestablishment.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who served out most of her sentence inTehran's Evin prison, was released last March during thecoronavirus pandemic and kept under house arrest, but her movements were restricted and she was barred from leaving thecountry.

On Sunday the authorities removed her ankle tag.

"She was pardoned by Iran's supreme leader last year, butspent the last year of her term under house arrest with electronic shackles tied to her feet. Now they're cast off," her lawyer Hojjat Kermani told an Iranian website. "She has beenf reed."

Iran's judiciary was not immediately available to commentabout the release. Her family and the foundation, a charity thatoperates independently of media firm Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters, deny the charge.

Mr. Kermani said a hearing for Zaghari-Ratcliffe's second casehas been scheduled on March 14.

"In this case, she is accused of propaganda against theIslamic Republic's system for participating in a rally in frontof the Iranian Embassy in London in 2009 and giving interview tothe BBC Persian TV channel at the same time," Mr. Kermani said.

He said he hoped that "this case will be closed at thisstage, considering the previous investigation".

Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband Richard Ratcliffe told Sky News on Sunday she was "pleased" her ankle tag had been removed butsaid the news was "mixed" from Iran due to the court summons. Ms. Ratcliffe did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Antonio Zappulla, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation,said the foundation was "delighted that her jail term was ended"and that she had told him she was "'ecstatic' to be able to sitin a cafe and have a coffee".

"Nazanin must be given her freedom, as was promised."

British foreign minister Dominic Raab welcomed the removalof Zaghari-Ratcliffe's ankle tag but said Iran continued to puther and her family through a "cruel and an intolerable ordeal".

"She must be released permanently so she can return to herfamily in the U.K.. We have relayed to the Iranian authorities inthe strongest possible terms that her continued confinement isunacceptable," Mr. Raab said in a statement.

Her lawyer told Iranian State TV he had no news on thestatus of her travel ban.

British lawmaker Tulip Siddiq said she had spoken to Zaghari-Ratcliffe's family and that her first trip would be tosee her grandmother.

The detentions of dozens of dual nationals and foreignershave complicated ties between Tehran and several European countries including Germany, France and Britain, all parties to Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with six powers.

The release come as Iran and the United States are trying torevive the deal, which former U.S. president abandoned in 2018and reimposed sanctions on Iran. Tehran responded by scaling down its compliance,

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 3:53:07 PM |

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