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British-Iranian Woman Imprisoned In Iran Said To Be Eligible For Early Release


British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

A British-Iranian woman imprisoned for months in Iran for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government may be released soon as she has recently become eligible for early release, her husband said on December 21.

Charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 38, who has denied the charges, has been in prison since she was arrested in April 2016 while visiting her family in Iran with her toddler daughter. She was later convicted of the charges in September 2016.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said that her lawyer recently discovered that her case was classified as "eligible for early release" on the Iranian judiciary website. It had previously been classified as "closed."

Prisoners in Iran are generally eligible for release once they've served one-third of their sentences.

While the news didn't mean a decision has been made to release Zaghari-Ratcliffe, her husband said it was a very positive sign and he was "cautiously hopeful."

A former employee of the BBC World Service Trust, Zaghari-Ratcliffe works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency. Both her family and Thomson Reuters say she was not visiting Iran in connection with her work when she was arrested.

Last month, Iranian state television aired new allegations against Zaghari-Ratcliffe, raising fears that officials might add more years to her prison term. But Ratcliffe said on December 21 that he believes there are no more court cases pending against his wife.

Ratcliffe said he has noticed "incremental improvement" in her prison conditions, including being allowed to make more phone calls, since British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson pressed for her release during a trip to Iran earlier this month.

An online petition for Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release has collected almost 1.5 million signatures.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and The Independent
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