Judiciary Rejects Speculations on Jailed Dual National's Release

Judiciary Rejects Speculations on Jailed Dual National's ReleaseJudiciary Rejects Speculations on Jailed Dual National's Release

A senior judiciary official did not confirm reports that Iranian-British Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe jailed over security charges could be discharged soon, saying the dual national is yet to face trial over a separate case.

"None of the claims western media have so far made about her are approved by judicial authorities," head of the judiciary in Tehran Province, Gholamhossein Esmaeili, told Tasnim News Agency on Friday, referring to a Thursday AP report quoting Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband as saying he is hopeful his wife will get free soon.  

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, claimed to be a charity worker affiliated with the London-based charity Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested in April 2016 just before taking the flight out of Iran.

The 38-year-old dual national is now serving a five-year jail sentence for clandestine efforts to spread propaganda against the Iranian government.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, told AP they are hopeful she could come home soon after discovering she has served enough of her sentence to be eligible for early release from prison.

He said his wife's lawyer has discovered that the case has been classed "eligible for early release" on the Iranian judiciary website. It was previously classed "closed".

Prisoners in Iran are generally eligible for release once they have served a third of their sentences.

  Prison Term Could Extend

"This person has a separate court case that is being investigated", Esmaeili said, adding that it was unclear whether she will be found guilty for a second time.

If so, Zaghari-Ratcliffe is likely to see more years added to her prison term.

This is while Ratcliffe told AP he believed there were no more court cases pending against his wife.

Ratcliffe said there was every reason to be hopeful, as there had been "incremental improvement" in the case, including allowing his wife to make more phone calls, since British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson visited Tehran earlier this month.

In his trip aimed at deepening Tehran-London relationship, Johnson discussed the dual national's case in meetings with Iranian officials, including his counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case drew considerable attention after Johnson suggested last month she was training journalists in Iran, contradicting the claim by the foundation affiliated with Thomson Reuters that she was simply on holiday visiting relatives.

Johnson came under pressure to resign after his comments, which confirmed charges by the Iranian judiciary that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was teaching people how to secretly prepare anti-government content and send them to the Persian service of the British-run BBC.

According to his career record, she worked for BBC Media Action, the charitable arm of the corporation, for around 18 months. Johnson later apologized for his "slip of the tongue", vowing to make every effort to secure the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Iran does not recognize dual nationality for its citizens, and thus treats Zaghari-Ratcliffe solely as an Iranian.

Iranian diplomats have signaled Iran may agree to measures to improve Zaghari's conditions over humanitarian grounds.


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