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British-Iranian Aid Worker Temporarily Freed From Tehran Prison, Reunited With Daughter

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (file photo)

Iranian authorities have granted British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe three days of temporary release from prison, her husband says.

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife left Tehran’s Evin prison on the morning of August 23 and was reunited with her family in the town of Damavand, northeast of the capital.

In a statement issued by the Free Nazanin campaign, he said Zaghari-Ratcliffe "wasn't expecting it at all" and that it was "awesome" for her 4-year-old daughter Gabriella to "have mummy home."

Richard Ratcliffe also said his wife’s lawyer was hopeful the period of release could be extended.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the charitable Thomson Reuters Foundation, is serving a five-year jail sentence after being convicted of plotting against the government, a charge denied by her family and the foundation.

Her employer and the British government say she was in Iran visiting relatives when she was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016 while traveling home with her daughter.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation’s chief executive, Monique Villa, said Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s temporary release was a positive sign and she expressed hope that it will become permanent.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also welcomed the "really good news" but said the release should be permanent.

“Being in prison AT ALL is gross injustice and she must be PERMANENTLY released for which every effort will continue,” he tweeted.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family has previously criticized the British government for not negotiating her release.

The British branch of the human rights group Amnesty International also celebrated the "amazing news" in a tweet.

“But the bogus charges still stand against her,” it added. “We must keep up the pressure on Iran by demanding her freedom.”

In May, the head of Tehran's hard-line Revolutionary Court, Musa Ghazanfarabadi, said Zaghari-Ratcliffe is to face a second trial on new security charges, without providing more details.

Earlier, Richard Ratcliffe said his wife had learned of the new allegation of "spreading propaganda against the regime" at a hearing before a judge at the court.

He said the judge told her to expect that "there will likely be another conviction and sentence" against her.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation said that it totally rejects "the renewed accusations that Nazanin is guilty of spreading propaganda."

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has reportedly arrested at least 30 dual nationals since 2015, mostly on spying charges.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and the BBC
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