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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe will be allowed out of prison on furlough, claims Iran regime amid coronavirus epidemic

PUBLISHED: 10:32 03 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:16 03 March 2020

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with a young Gabriella before Nazanin was arrested in April 2016. Picture: Free Nazanin

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with a young Gabriella before Nazanin was arrested in April 2016. Picture: Free Nazanin

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe will be allowed to temporarily leave prison today or tomorrow, according to the Iranian regime.

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of detained Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, outside the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA.Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of detained Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, outside the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA.

In a tweet on Tuesday morning, Hamid Baeidinijad, the country's ambassador to the UK reported that a judiciary spokesperson, Mr. Esmaili, had announced Nazanin was "in good health condition and she will be granted a furlough today or tomorrow to join her family in Tehran."

But after reading the tweet, Nazanin's husband Richard, said he was concerned the family were "being gamed".

This comes amid fears that Nazanin has contracted coronavirus in Evin Prison.

Over the weekend her family confirmed they and she believed she had the deadly virus - which is sweeping through Iran - and that the authorities in Iran had refused to test her for it.

Richard told the Ham&High: "I think we are being gamed if I am honest They haven't tested her. They are trying to avoid responsibility for her illness or its treatment and the offer of furlough in the ambassador's tweet is a way of doing that."

He said he felt the discussion of a furlough was "a carrot" ahead of another hearing over the debt the UK owes Iran set to take place next week.

He added that if he was wrong and Nazanin was released, "then of course Nazanin will be very very happy to leave prison". He concluded: "It will be the government's responsibility to make sure it is one way."

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When Nazanin's MP Tulip Siddiq (Lab, Hampstead and Kilburn) asked an urgent question in parliament on Monday, foreign office minister Nigel Adams said: "I think things may have moved on a little bit today in terms of the testing with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

"Clearly we are unable to comment on any medical assessments without the permission of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe."

He said the government was in "close contact" with the Iranian authorities to push for a "temporary release on medical grounds".

Richard said Mr Adams' comments were "disingenuous" and added: "It is irresponsible of the minister to hint at something he knows not to be true."

Tulip Siddiq added: "If the news that Nazanin may be released temporarily on furlough is true, I know she would welcome leaving Evin prison. But we've been here before.

"If you leave British citizens in harm's way for long enough, they will come to harm. The Government has important choices to make over Nazanin's case in the coming months. They must do everything possible to secure her permanent release, including resolving the debt that Britain owes to Iran.

"Nazanin's life hangs in the balance. The UK Government can and must act quickly to keep her safe."

An foreign office spokesperson said: "We are urgently seeking information from the Iranian authorities on reports that coronavirus is spreading in Evin prison. We call on the Iranian government to immediately allow health professionals into Evin prison to assess the situation of British-Iranian dual nationals there."

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