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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe spends 'another day in limbo' awaiting release decision

Zaghari-Ratcliffe pictured with her daughter Gabriella [Twitter]

Date of publication: 19 April, 2020

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is waiting to find out whether she must return to prison, as her family criticise the judiciary's mixed messages about her release as 'mind games'.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian aid worker on temporary release from her five-year term at a Tehran prison, will find out on Sunday if her furlough is to be extended, after prosecutors delayed the decision by a day.

The Free Nazanin Twitter account, run by Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, said on Saturday that the family had spoken with the Prosecutors Office about the furlough extension, but were told to come back the next day for a decision.

However, Tehran's Judiciary Spokesperson Gholamhossein Esmaili said on TV on Friday that the 41-year-old's temporary release had been extended.

"It's disconcerting that this was announced on TV, but not confirmed directly to Nazanin's lawyer or family," the Free Nazanin campaign tweeted. "There comes a point where this repeated uncertainty ends up feeling like mind games, particularly in the sleepless small hours."

"We hope that tomorrow brings good news, clearly. And that the healing can start from these games," the statement added.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe had originally been furloughed for two weeks in March due to the coronavirus outbreak in Iran. It was then extended again and was due to end on Saturday.

The aid worker was arrested was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016 after visiting relatives in Iran with her 22-month-old daughter and later charged with sedition.

While on leave, she has been required to wear an ankle tag and stay within 300 metres of her parents' home, which her husband likened to house arrest.

Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK's Director, criticised Iranian authorities for delaying the decision on Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release.

"That Nazanin and her family must wait another day in limbo for a decision is deeply disappointing," she said in a statement.

"There should be no question of her being sent back to Evin Prison - not in a few weeks’ time, not ever," she said, referring to the notorious Tehran jail where Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held for four years.

"Nazanin is a prisoner of conscience, convicted after a deeply unfair trial, and she should never have been behind bars at all," Allen added. "It is time for Nazanin to come home. We’re urging the Iranian authorities to do the right thing tomorrow and free Nazanin."

Some 85,000 detainees, including political prisoners, were temporarily freed in Iran in March in attempt to prevent a rapid spread of Covid-19 in the country's overcrowded prisons.

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