LONDON, Aug 23 (Reuters) – A detained British-Iranian aid worker sentenced to five years in jail in Iran has been released from detention for three days, her supporters and Iran’s envoy to Britain said on Thursday, in a move welcomed by Britain’s foreign minister.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she was heading back to Britain with her two-year-old daughter after a family visit.
She was convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge denied by her family and the Foundation, a charity organization that is independent of Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News.
“Mrs. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been granted a three-day release from prison in Iran to reunite with her family,” Iran’s ambassador to Britain, Hamid Baeidinejad, said on Twitter.
Iranian authorities could not immediately be reached for further comment.
The Free Nazanin group, which has campaigned for her release, said Zaghari-Ratcliffe was released from Evin prison on furlough on Thursday morning and was with her family in the city of Damavand in Tehran province.
In a statement, it quoted Zaghari-Ratcliffe as saying it would be “just awesome” for her daughter Gabriella, now four, to finally have her home.
Britain’s foreign minister Jeremy Hunt wrote on Twitter that her release was “really good news”, but added: “being in prison AT ALL is gross injustice and she must be PERMANENTLY released for which every effort will continue.”
Thomson Reuters Foundation chief executive Monique Villa said Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release was a positive sign and said she hoped it would lead to her permanent release.
As a condition of the furlough, Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been barred from conducting any interviews with the media, cannot visit the grounds of any foreign embassy and may not attempt to leave the country, the statement from Free Nazanin said.
Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, told BBC television that her release had come as a surprise and that her lawyer was confident she would be allowed to stay out for longer than three days.
(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Writing by Paul Sandle; Editing by Andrew Roche and Nick Tattersall)