Temporary release of British-Iranian aid worker leads to hope of permanent one

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was dealt a blow two years ago, when she attempted to leave Iran after visiting family with her two-year old daughter. At the airport, she was arrested and later charged and convicted of attempting to overthrow the Iranian regime. Her family and the foundation that she works for denies these charges. Her sentence was five years in jail, of which she has now served two years.

Iranian authorities confirmed via Twitter that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been released for a three-day furlough, but no other information was released. According to the Free Nazanin group, she is with her family in the city of Damavand within Tehran province.

Her prison sentence is a gross injustice

Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt saw her release as a positive but noted that “being in prison at all is gross injustice and she must be permanently released for with every effort will continue.”

Jeremy Hunt

Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt

The conditions of her furlough from prison include no interviews with any media, no access to any foreign embassy, and that she cannot attempt to leave the country. Her family indicated that it would be amazing to have her home, especially since she has spent the past two years away from her daughter.

Support from foundation and others

The Thomson Reuters Foundation, a charity organization, is operated separate from Reuters News and is independent of Thomson Reuters. The CEO of the foundation said that her release was a positive sign, but that she hoped it would lead to Zaghari-Radcliffe’s permanent release.

Her husband also indicated that her release was a surprise, but it was a welcome one. Zaghari-Radcliffe’s lawyer was confident that she would be allowed to remain outside of the prison beyond the three days prescribed in the furlough.

Release comes in the midst of government showdown

Her release was held up, according to sources, by a problem regarding a debt between the British government and the Iranian regime. That debt may have been part of an arms deal that fell apart in 1979 but left the Iranian regime out millions of dollars.

Her husband noted that their little girl has largely grown up without both of her parents, and that the two of them will have to learn to parent their four-year old again. Questions remain about whether she will be allowed to leave Iran with her little girl at some point in the future. Her family in Iran has been caring for her daughter, since she was not allowed to leave Iran once her mother was detained.

About Siavosh Hosseini (279 Articles)
My background is in the visual arts, particularly in photojournalism. I have had the opportunity to cover scores of international artistic and news events in the US and across Europe since the mid-1980s. I was active in television newsrooms and production as a graphic designer and producer for more than 12 years in different television and news outfits in Europe.
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