Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe released from jail in Iran due to coronavirus crisis

British-Iranian mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been temporarily released from a jail in Tehran because of the coronavirus outbreak, her husband has said.

The 40-year-old is among the 85,000 prisoners temporarily released by the Iranian government.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “I am relieved that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was today temporarily released into the care of her family in Iran. We urge the regime to ensure she receives any necessary medical care.

"While this is a welcome step, we urge the government now to release all UK dual nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran, and enable them to return to their families in the UK.”

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe, who has set up the "Free Nazanin" campaign group and lobbied the British government to secure his
wife's release, said in a statement: "Unfortunately, Nazanin will be exceptionally required to wear an ankle tag during the furlough, which her parents have now hired from the authorities.

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"Nazanin's movements will be restricted to 300m from her parents' home in West Tehran."

Earlier this month Mr Ratcliffe said he feared his wife had contracted coronavirus but the Iranian judiciary said she was in good health.

Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, added: “The immediate priority is that Nazanin gets proper medical care, including a full coronavirus check-up.

“Beyond the immediate health concerns, let’s not lose sight of where we are – Nazanin is a prisoner of conscience, convicted after a deeply unfair trial who should never have been behind bars at all.

“We’re now calling on the Iranian authorities to end Nazanin’s ordeal and finally allow her to return to her family in the UK as soon as she’s well enough to travel and as soon as any coronavirus travel restrictions allow.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport while travelling with her young daughter, Gabriella, to meet her parents in April 2016.

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

She has been afforded diplomatic protection by the UK Government, which states that she is innocent and that her treatment by Iran failed to meet obligations under international law.

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Some have claimed that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held as a bargaining chip to try and hasten the resolution of a £400 million dispute between the UK and Iran over a deal for Chieftain tanks struck in the 1970s.

The row rose over a deal between International Military Services, a venture used by the Ministry of Defence to sell British weapons overseas, and the Iranian defence ministry.

It was to sell the Shah of Iran around 1,500 Chieftain tanks and armoured vehicles in 1971.

The contract was terminated after the Shah was deposed in the 1979 revolution, but Iran had already paid for the tanks and demanded its money back.

Iran's death toll from coronavirus has reached 853 and a total of 14,991 people have been confirmed infected, one of the worst national outbreaks outside China, where the killer virus originated.

There were 129 coronavirus fatalities in Iran on Monday, the largest one-day rise in deaths since it began battling the outbreak.

Religious leader Ayatollah Hashem Bathayi Golpayegani, 78, is one of the hundreds that have died from the bug. He tested positive for coronavirus just two days before he died.

He was the latest of several senior Iranian officials to have been infected in the worsening outbreak.

The semi-official Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported that Ayatollah Hashem Bathaei, a low-profile, moderate member of the Assembly of Experts, died after contracting Covid-19.

At least 12 former and current Iranian politicians and officials are understood to have died from the virus

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