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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Iran has sentenced an Iranian-British woman accused of trying to overthrow the Islamic republic's government to five years in prison.

Mizan Online, a website affiliated with Iran's judiciary, quoted a prosecutor on January 22 as saying that the sentence against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been finalized.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, confirmed that an appeals court upheld her sentence for the charge of "acting against national security." Her family denies she has violated any laws.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency's charity organization, was detained in April while attempting to fly back to England with her young daughter, and had her passport seized. She was in Iran to visit relatives in the southeastern city of Kerman.

Richard Ratcliffe said among the accusations against his wife is that she had previously worked as head of recruitment for BBC Persian.

Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO Monique Villa said Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, never worked for BBC Persian.

Iranian authorities have arrested a number of dual citizens on security-related charges since the Islamic republic reached a nuclear accord with world powers in 2015.

Iran does not recognize dual nationality, meaning those detained cannot receive consular assistance.

British Prime Minister Theresa May mentioned Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case in a phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rohani in August.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and the Fars news agency
Russian-Israeli blogger Aleksandr Lapshin (file photo)

MINSK -- Belarusian prosecutors have ruled to extradite Russian-Israeli blogger Aleksandr Lapshin to Azerbaijan, where he is accused of separatism.

A spokesman for the Prosecutor-General's Office, Pyotar Kisyalyou, announced the ruling to RFE/RL on January 20.

He did not provide any further details.

But other sources at the Prosecutor-General's Office said deputy state prosecutor Alyaksey Stuk had signed the extradition order on January 17.

Lapshin, who lives in Moscow and writes a Russian-language travel blog, was detained in Minsk in mid-December on an extradition request from Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani prosecutors accuse him of illegally visiting Nagorno-Karabakh region and calling for the recognition of the breakaway region's independence from Azerbaijan.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Minsk to "unconditionally" release Lapshin.

If extradited, tried, and convicted, he faces up to eight years in prison.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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