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British aid worker freed by Iran after five years – but faces new charge

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after she was released in Tehran yesterday. Photo: Zaghari family/WANA/via Reuters

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after she was released in Tehran yesterday. Photo: Zaghari family/WANA/via Reuters

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after she was released in Tehran yesterday. Photo: Zaghari family/WANA/via Reuters

Iran has released British-­Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from house arrest at the end of her five-year prison sentence but she has been summoned to court again on another charge, her lawyer said yesterday.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at a Tehran airport in April 2016 and later convicted of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment.

Having served most of her sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison, she was released last March during the pandemic and kept under house arrest, but her movements were restricted and she was barred from leaving the country. The authorities removed her ankle tag yesterday.

“She was pardoned by Iran’s supreme leader last year, but spent the last year of her term under house arrest with electronic shackles tied to her feet. Now they’re cast off,” her lawyer Hojjat Kermani said. “She has been freed.”

Her family and the foundation, a charity that operates independently of media firm Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters, deny the charge.

Mr Kermani said a hearing for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s second case has been scheduled for March 14. “In this case, she is accused of propaganda against the Islamic Republic’s system for participating in a rally in front of the Iranian Embassy in London in 2009 and giving an interview to the BBC Persian TV channel at the same time,” Mr Kermani said.

He said he hoped “this case will be closed at this stage, considering the previous investigation”.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard Ratcliffe told Sky’s News on Sunday she was “pleased” her ankle tag had been removed but said the news was “mixed” due to the court summons.

Antonio Zappulla, Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO , said the foundation was “delighted that her jail term was ended” and he had told him she was “’ecstatic’ to be able to sit in a café and have a coffee”.

“Nazanin must be given her freedom, as was promised.” (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2021)

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