Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian woman who has been held in Iran’s Even Prison since April 2016, has been released on temporary furlough.
Iranian authorities have obliged Zaghari-Ratcliffe to wear an ankle tag – which her parents, who live in Tehran, were forced to hire from the authorities – during her temporarily release. Zaghari-Ratcliffe will also be limited to moving no more than 300 meters from her family’s home.
The furlough comes as the Iranian government released approximately 85,000 prisoners – both criminal cases and “security” or political cases – to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease through Iranian prisons.
Iran is the third-worst hit of the more than 100 countries which now have reported coronavirus cases. The government has reported at least 16,000 cases, which nearly a thousand dead, though reports suggest that the numbers are actually far higher. Observers and activists have been concerned for several days that Iranian prisons – known for extreme over-crowding – would become dangerously overrun by the outbreak.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in April 2016 as she was about to return home to the United Kingdom. The authorities charged her with “espionage” and similar crimes – but observers say the arrest was designed to pressure the British government.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has since campaigned for her release. Her furlough will end on April 4 – four years and a day after her first arrest.