In Brief

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘eligible for early release’

Breakthrough could see jailed Brit home from Iran for Christmas

Jailed British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is eligible for early release after spending more than 18 months in an Iranian prison over spying allegations, her lawyer says.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 38, from Hampstead, denies accusations that she plotted to overthrow the Tehran government. Richard Ratcliffe said his wife’s lawyer is hopeful she will be home for Christmas.

Ratcliffe told Sky News that nothing had been confirmed officially and that “there is still some paperwork” to complete. “But compared to where we have been in recent weeks, there is absolutely no doubt that this is positive news,”

Earlier this month, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited Tehran to “smooth over” a blunder that threatened to land Zaghari-Ratcliffe with a longer sentence, after Johnson mistakenly claimed that the mother-of-one was in Iran to teach journalism, The Daily Telegraph says. 

The Iranian government said his comment amounted to a confession that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was working to overthrow the Iranian government, and summoned her to court to face more serious charges and a longer sentence. The threat of legal action was quietly dropped following the Foreign Secretary’s visit.

In November, the Iranian ambassador to London announced that the UK had agreed to settle a £400m debt dating back to the 1970s. He insisted that Britain’s change of heart “has nothing to do” with Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case, Reuters reports. 

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