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Doubts Expressed Over Scheduled Release Of U.K.-Iranian Aid Worker Jailed In Iran

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held in Iran since 2016.

British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's five-year jail term in Iran expires on March 7, but her husband has said her release may be in doubt.

Richard Ratcliffe told the BBC on March 6 that his wife's detention has "the potential to drag on and on" and said that "it's perfectly possible that Nazanin gets a new court case thrown at her."

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who is now 42, was detained at Tehran airport after a family visit in 2016 and subsequently given a five-year sentence for plotting to overthrow Iran's government.

Her family and the foundation deny the charge while Amnesty International denounced the proceedings as a “deeply unfair trial.”

Britain has demanded Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release and that of other dual nationals imprisoned in Iran. Tehran does not recognize dual citizenship.

In November 2020, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was notified in court of a fresh indictment of "spreading propaganda against the regime."

Ratcliffe told the BBC that the family has "never seen a copy of the charges on which she was sentenced" originally, and accused Iran of preserving "the space to make it up as they go along at every stage."

Nazanin was temporarily released from the capital's notorious Evin prison and placed under house arrest in March owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Media have connected Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release to the outcome of negotiations between Iran and the United Kingdom over the release of hundreds of millions of dollars of Iranian funds frozen by London more than 40 years ago.

Officials in both London and Tehran have denied that Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case is linked to a repayment deal.

Based on reporting by the BBC and AFP