UK-Iranian woman temporarily freed from Tehran jail

London (AFP) –


A British-Iranian woman serving a five-year prison term in Tehran for sedition was released from jail for two weeks on Tuesday, her husband said.

"The Free Nazanin Campaign is pleased to confirm -- as has long been promised –- that Nazanin (Zaghari-Ratcliffe) was this afternoon released temporarily on furlough for two weeks until 4 April 2020," Richard Ratcliffe said in an emailed statement.

The 41-year-old last month warned she was in danger of contracting the new coronavirus inside Evin Prison, as Iran struggles to contain the global epidemic within its own borders.

She was subsequently tested and found not to have the virus, which has killed nearly 1,000 people inside the country.

Her husband said on Tuesday that Zaghari-Ratcliffe would be required to wear an ankle tag and that her movements would be restricted to 300 metres from her parents' home in west Tehran.

"This makes her release more comparable to house arrest than the standard furlough arrangement that has been granted to other prisoners in Evin this week," he said.

But Richard Ratcliffe said her temporary release had still brought joy to her family as she spent her first hours outside prison with her mother and sisters.

"This afternoon there have been big smiles on everyone's faces, even if feeling a bit overwhelmed," he said.

Britain welcomed the move, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab saying he was "relieved" at the news but insisting she receive "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," he said.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016 after visiting relatives in Iran with their young daughter.

She worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation -- the media organisation's philanthropic arm -- at the time.

Iranian authorities convicted her of sedition -- a charge Zaghari-Ratcliffe has always contested -- and she is serving a five-year jail term.