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Woman Jailed in Iran Has Returned to U.K.


LONDON — A British cultural group stated on Wednesday that one in every of its staff from Iran had been acquitted of espionage costs by that nation’s Supreme Courtroom and was again in Britain after spending greater than three years in jail.

Whereas visiting her grandmother in Iran, the lady, Aras Amiri, was arrested in March 2018 together with different Iranians with British connections, in what was regarded as an try by the authorities to realize leverage in an previous dispute with Britain over greater than $400 million in undelivered weaponry.

Ms. Amiri, an artwork pupil employed for 5 years by the British Council to facilitate “greater appreciation of Iranian culture in the U.K.,” is an Iranian citizen who had lived in Britain for round 10 years earlier than she was detained. Iran’s Supreme Courtroom acquitted her in August, the council stated, and he or she returned to Britain this week after the journey ban related together with her authentic detention was lifted.

Credit score…Picture supplied by Mohsen Omrani

Ms. Amiri’s acquittal underscores the Iranian authorities’ frequent focusing on of twin residents and Iranian residents with Western connections, usually utilizing their instances as diplomatic bargaining chips or to press for the discharge of Iranian prisoners overseas.

She was sentenced to 10 years in jail in April 2019, a punishment that was delivered on state-funded Iranian TV earlier than both she or her lawyer had been knowledgeable, in line with a letter Ms. Amiri wrote in June 2019 from jail, which her cousin, Mohsen Omrani, despatched to the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based advocacy group.

In response to the identical letter addressed to Iranian judiciary chief, Ebrahim Raisi, Ms. Amiri stated that she had been imprisoned due to her affiliation with the British Council and that she had turned down an “specific invitation” to spy for Iran’s Intelligence Ministry.

“Now we have at all times refuted the unique costs made in opposition to Aras,” the council stated in a statement on Wednesday. “We’re very pleased with her work in our London workplace as an arts program officer.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Ms. Amiri’s lawyer, Hojjat Kermani, stated that Iran’s Supreme Courtroom had decided that her earlier espionage conviction was “in opposition to Shariah,” in any other case often known as Islamic legislation.

Different twin residents and Iranian residents with Western connections who’ve been detained embrace Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British-Australian scholar who was detained in 2018 on costs of spying for Israel, and was launched in December in a prisoner swap with three Iranian males.

Ms. Amiri was incarcerated in Evin Jail, north of Tehran. Earlier than her acquittal and return to Britain, Ms. Amiri was briefly launched on furlough in April 2020 over considerations concerning the unfold of coronavirus.

Additionally incarcerated in Evin Jail was one other British-Iranian nationwide, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

In April 2020, Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe — a challenge supervisor with the Thomson Reuters Basis on the time of her arrest, who was sentenced to 5 years in jail in 2016 after she was accused of plotting to overthrow the federal government in Tehran — was additionally granted indefinite furlough. (Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was given a one-year sentence and journey ban in April, beneath new costs of conducting “propaganda actions” in opposition to the Iranian authorities.

A number of international and twin nationals are held in Iranian prisons, together with Nahid Taghavi, a German-Iranian architect; Siamak Namazi, a businessman, and his father, Baquer Namazi, a former official with Unicef, each Iranian People; Dr. Ahmad Reza Jalali, a Swedish-Iranian doctor and researcher; and Morad Tahbaz, an Iranian-American environmentalist.

Farnaz Fassihi contributed reporting.

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