Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s furlough extended until May


Iran’s judiciary has extended British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s temporary release from jail by another month.

In mid-March, Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, was temporarily released from Tehran’s Evin prison for two weeks along with thousands of other prisoners as a precaution against the coronavirus pandemic.

“Zaghari’s furlough was until April 18. But it has been extended until May 20,” her lawyer Mahmoud Behzadiradtold the semi-official Iranian news agency IRNA on Tuesday.

She was due to return to prison this weekend.

The British-Iranian dual national was told on Tuesday about the development, which confirmed a general statement about the extension of prisoners’ furlough made by the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, on Sunday.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been living at her parents’ house in the Iranian capital while wearing an electronic tag, will not have to return to prison until at least May 20. While on release she has been able to contact her husband Richard Ratcliffe in London and their five-year-old child, Gabriella.

Richard Ratcliffe welcomed the latest move and said the family has asked his wife be granted clemency. Ratcliffe agreed to hold off heavy campaigning until June to give the British and Iranian diplomats time to reach a solution.

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

She was 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 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.

Amnesty International said: “There should be no question of Nazanin ever being sent back to Evin prison. There are numerous reports of COVID-19 in Iranian jails, with detainees pleading for basic things like soap to help combat the disease.”

Iran insists its official figures showed the coronavirus was being brought slowly under control.

As of Thursday, there are 85,996 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iran with 5,391 deaths. (Source: The Guardian)