Friday 30 September 2016

Iranian-British woman pardoned for Tehran volleyball protest

Published 02/04/2015 | 16:19

Ghoncheh Ghavami, 28, from Shepherd's Bush in west London, an Iranian-British woman jailed for trying to attend a men's volleyball game in Iran has been released after serving five months of a one-year sentence (Family handout/PA Wire)
Ghoncheh Ghavami, 28, from Shepherd's Bush in west London, an Iranian-British woman jailed for trying to attend a men's volleyball game in Iran has been released after serving five months of a one-year sentence (Family handout/PA Wire)

An Iranian-British woman, jailed in Tehran last year for taking part in a protest against a ban on women attending some men's sporting events, has been pardoned.

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Ghoncheh Ghavami was arrested last June outside Tehran's Azadi Stadium where she and others were demanding that women be allowed in to watch a volleyball match between Iran and Italy.

A Tehran court sentenced her to a year in jail last November for spreading anti-state propaganda, according to Iranian media, but she was freed on bail three weeks later pending a decision by the Court of Appeal.

"We welcome the news that Ghoncheh Ghavami has been pardoned by the Court of Appeal in Iran, although we are concerned that she is still subject to a travel ban," a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said. "We are following the case closely and remain in touch with her family."

The family of Ghoncheh Ghavami, 28, from Shepherd's Bush in west London, an Iranian-British woman jailed for trying to attend a men's volleyball game in Iran, have spoken of their delight and surprise at her release (PA Wire)
The family of Ghoncheh Ghavami, 28, from Shepherd's Bush in west London, an Iranian-British woman jailed for trying to attend a men's volleyball game in Iran, have spoken of their delight and surprise at her release (PA Wire)

Read more: Family's joy at release of woman locked up for protest

A Twitter account in the name of Ghavami's brother Iman and a Facebook page named "Free Ghoncheh Ghavami" both reported on Tuesday that the charges against her had been dropped.

"Ghoncheh will not have to spend another day, another hour in prison ... The uncertainty of autumn and the dark winter clouds have gone. And the sun once again is shining for my family," a post by Iman Ghavami on the Facebook site said.

Britain has no permanent diplomatic presence in Iran, although it has said it plans to reopen its embassy soon and has direct contact with Tehran about consular matters.

Read more: Iranian-British woman jailed over men's volleyball game

Ghavami, who was reported to be staying with her parents in the Iranian capital while she awaited the court's decision, had gone on a hunger strike during her incarceration to protest against what she said was her unjust jailing.

In January, Iran said it would allow foreign women to watch men play volleyball when it hosts the 2015 Asian Men's Volleyball Championship in August.

However, the authorities, who bar women from watching men playing sports such as volleyball and football under its Islamic law, said Iranian women would still be banned.

Reuters

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