December 21, 2017
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe eligible for early release in Iran
A British mother in prison in Tehran has been told she is eligible for early release, in the most positive sign yet she may be freed on humanitarian grounds following pressure from the UK government.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe told her husband Richard that her lawyer said the Iranian judiciary this week changed her case status from “closed” to “eligible for release”.
The charity worker, who has British and Iranian nationality, is serving a five-year sentence for trying to topple the Iranian government. She has consistently denied the charges against her, saying she was on holiday in the country.
"I'm not counting my chickens yet, but it's the more optimistic we've been in some time,” Mr Ratcliffe, from London, told the Telegraph.
"We could well see her home for Christmas, but if not it will definitely be over soon - either days or weeks.”
The 38-year-old, who had been working for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, has struggled during her 18 months in prison, including solitary confinement. She has been separated from her infant daughter, Gabriella, who was with her at the time of her arrest by Iranian authorities in April of last year.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe eligible for early release in Iran

The move marks a dramatic reversal of the family’s fortunes after her case was complicated by comments made by Boris Johnson in early November.
The Foreign Secretary told a parliamentary committee that she had been training journalists at the time of her arrest, comments that were then cited by the Iranian judiciary as evidence of propaganda activities.
Iran seized on the gaffe and brought Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe back to court to face further charges that could have seen her sentence doubled.



But Mr Ratcliffe said despite the trauma it caused them, Mr Johnson's comment may have inadvertently helped by adding pressure on her case.
He said the “tide turned” after a visit from Mr Johnson to Tehran earlier this month.
“Immediately after we felt there was no hope, but lots of work has been put into her case as a result and things have turned around,” he told the Telegraph.
“Since then we’ve had the second court case postponed and then cancelled. This week she has been allowed extra visits and calls every day.
“She’s sounding a lot more upbeat but fundamentally still anxious.... It has been a long road.”
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe eligible for early release in Iran

He said she was also visited on Wednesday by the prosecutor’s deputy for the first time.
Mr Johnson had appealed to Mohammad Javad Zarif, his Iranian counterpart, to release the charity worker on humanitarian grounds. The Foreign Secretary was unable to meet with Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe in person as Iran does not recognise dual citizenship and she is therefore considered solely Iranian.
Her lawyer said in Iran, prisoners are eligible for release after serving a third of their sentence. She has served 18 months of a five-year sentence.
He said he applied to the prosecutor's office for her early release in October, but believes it was not approved until after Mr Johnson’s “frank” talks with officials in Tehran.
Mr Ratcliffe added that he had a low week after watching coverage of Mr Johnson’s visit to Tehran in the Iranian media.
“We've had stuff in the Iranian media and we've also had clerics - the guy who leads the Friday prayers - saying some pretty terrible things about the Foreign Secretary and also about Nazanin which is obviously not a great sign,” he said.
“There's been a backlash and the hardline media (in Iran) are talking about "how can we entertain Boris Johnson? What a terrible country Britain is’.
“If we’d had this conversation yesterday I’d have been very low. But today feels like a good day.”
Tulip Siddiq, the MP for the Ratcliffes’ constituency Hampstead and Kilburn, said the news had given the family a "glimmer of light at the end of a very dark tunnel.”
“It has given Nazanin a real boost of positive energy, and now we wait impatiently to see what happens next. Although we do not want to celebrate prematurely, it would be the perfect Christmas gift to see Nazanin released and back with her family where she belongs,” she added.
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