TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A British-Iranian woman held in an Iranian prison for five years on widely refuted spying charges ended her sentence on Sunday, her lawyer said, although it remains unclear when she can leave the country.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was able to remove her ankle bracelet for the first time since being released from prison on furlough because of the surging coronavirus pandemic last March, the lawyer said. She has been under house arrest at her parent’s home in Tehran since.
“The situation of her leaving the country is not clear yet,” lawyer Hodjat Kermani told The Associated Press.
Last fall, Iranian state TV abruptly announced a new indictment against Zaghari-Ratcliffe, but the trial was indefinitely adjourned. Iran’s semiofficial news agency ISNA reported on Sunday that Zaghari-Ratcliffe would be summoned to court on March 13 over these new charges, which were not specified. No other Iranian media immediately confirmed the new court date.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 42, was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s government, a charge that she, her supporters and rights groups vigorously deny. While employed at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency, she was taken into custody at the airport as she was returning home to Britain after visiting family.
In what the U.N. has criticized as an “emerging pattern,” Iran has frequently arrested dual citizens in recent years, often using their cases as bargaining chips for money or influence in negotiations with the West, something Tehran denies.