British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe eligible for early release from Iran prison

British mother Nazanin Ratcliffe eligible for early release

A senior Iranian judiciary official has dismissed reports that a detained British-Iranian aid worker sentenced to five years in jail for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government could be released soon.

On Thursday, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband Richard Ratcliffe told media in the United Kingdom that his wife's lawyer had seen a change in her status on the Iranian judiciary database and that she was eligible for early release.

While the news didn't mean a decision has been made to release Zaghari-Ratcliffe, her husband said it was a very positive sign and he was "cautiously hopeful". But Ratcliffe said Thursday he believed there were no more court cases pending against his wife. I'm probably a bit cautious to see just how positive.

She was arrested in Tehran airport in 2016 during a trip to the country to show her baby daughter Gabriella to her parents. "But he (her lawyer) was clearly hopeful".

Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case made headlines after UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson erroneously told a British parliamentary committee that she was in Iran training journalists when she was arrested, whereas her family and employer have always insisted she was visiting family on vacation, which is also the official position of the British government.

The comments risked increasing Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's time behind bars, as authorities used this as justification for new charges against her of "spreading propaganda". If she is convicted, we don't know what the sentence will be. Addressing lawmakers in the House of Commons, he said the United Kingdom government "has no doubt that she was on holiday in Iran when she was arrested a year ago and that was the sole objective of her visit".

Johnson met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif at the start of December to discuss Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case.

The foreign secretary later acknowledged he had misspoken.



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