Jailed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe offered 'glimmer of hope'

A British lawmaker says there is a "glimmer of hope" for jailed British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after...

Posted: Dec 21, 2017 2:44 PM
Updated: Dec 21, 2017 2:44 PM

A British lawmaker says there is a "glimmer of hope" for jailed British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after reports she may have been deemed eligible for early release.

Tulip Sadiq, Zaghari-Ratcliffe's local MP, welcomed news of a potential change in her status, saying it had given the imprisoned mother a "real boost of positive energy."

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was was detained in Tehran in April 2016 and given a five-year sentence on espionage charges that she and her family vehemently deny.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, whose fumbled language earlier this year shone a light on Zaghari-Ratcliffe's predicament, raised the case on a visit to the Iranian capital two weeks ago.

Her sister Rebecca Jones, said on Thursday that Zaghari-Ratcliffe's Iranian lawyer was cautiously optimistic at what appeared to be a change in her status.

"She's spoken to her lawyer, she's seen her lawyer yesterday, and her lawyer has now discovered that on a judiciary database, her case is marked eligible for early release -- that's a change, we thought it was always a closed case," Jones told the UK Press Association.

"It doesn't mean to say she is going to get early release, but it's definitely a positive step that she has been marked eligible for early release.

"The lawyer is much more positive and Nazanin is much more positive."

CNN was not able to independently verify Zaghari-Ratcliffe's status.

Her local MP Tulip Siddiq also welcomed the reports: "This news is a glimmer of light at the end of a dark tunnel for my constituents Richard, Nazanin and Gabriella," Zaghari-Ratcliffe's local MP Tulip Siddiq said in a statement.

"It has given Nazanin a real boost of positive energy, and now we wait impatiently to see what happens next.

"Although we do not want to celebrate prematurely, it would be the perfect Christmas gift to see Nazanin released and back with her family where she belongs."

In a recent interview with CNN, Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin's husband, said he remained hopeful she would be home for Christmas.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case came to prominence after Johnson mistakenly told a British parliamentary committee that she was in Iran teaching journalists when she was detained. Her family and employer have always insisted she was visiting family on vacation, which is also the official position of the British government.

The seriousness of Johnson's error became apparent days later when Zaghari-Ratcliffe was summoned to an unscheduled court hearing at which the foreign secretary's remarks were cited as proof that she had engaged in "propaganda against the regime."

Her family feared that her five-year sentence could be lengthened. Johnson later apologized for his remarks, stating that she was in Iran on holiday.

But after Johnson met Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran last week, a court appearance for Zaghari-Ratcliffe' was postponed.

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