Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 October 2020

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is in 'good health', officials in Iran say

It was feared she may have coronavirus

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe hugs her daughter Gabriella, in Iran. Free Nazanin Campaign
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe hugs her daughter Gabriella, in Iran. Free Nazanin Campaign

Iran's ambassador to the UK has said Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian national who has been detained in Tehran, is in "good health".

It followed fears from her family that she may have coronavirus, however, her relatives say as yet she has still not been tested.

In a tweet earlier on Tuesday, Iran's ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad, said she has not been affected by coronavirus and also raised the possibility she might be temporarily released to spend time with her family.

He said: "Mr Esmaili, the spokesman of Iran’s judiciary, announced that Mrs Nazanin Zaghari is in good health condition and has not been affected with Choronavirus.

"He added that one of the prisoners with security charge will be granted a furlough today or tomorrow to join family."

However, a few hours later he clarified his tweet calling the news that she may be temporarily released "an interpretation" of Mr Esmaili's statement and it might refer to a different prisoner.

He added: "This was an earlier news from a news-agency in Iran reporting on Mr Esmaili’s statement. But apparently it has been an interpretation. In his original statement, Mr Esmaili is not naming the one receiving furlough."

The 41-year-old dual national has been held in Evin Prison since 2016.

In a statement via the Free Nazanin campaign on Saturday, she said: “I am not good. I feel very bad in fact. It is a strange cold. Not like usual. I know the kinds of cold I normally have, how my body reacts.

“This is different. I am just as bad as I was. I often get better after three days. But with this there is no improvement. I haven’t got one bit better.”

The campaign said it believed she had contracted coronavirus inside the capital's notorious Evin Prison, mainly due due to lack of hygiene materials for inmates.

"We are concerned by the prison authorities' refusal to test her, and the wider suppression of coronavirus inside the Iranian prison system," the statement said.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, called on the British government to ensure she is immediately tested for Covid-19 by officials at the jail.

British politician Tulip Siddiq said: "News from Iranian Ambassador that my constituent Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe may be released on furlough today or tomorrow from prison in Iran. If this is true, Nazanin would welcome leaving Evin jail, but we’ve been here before.

"If this furlough happens, the British government have an obligation to make it permanent, and not let her be used as a bargaining chip in the weeks to come. I remain concerned that Nazanin has told her family that she has still not been tested for coronavirus."

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was reported to have a sore throat for more than five days, after first experiencing a runny nose and a cough.

“Now I have this continual cold sweat, I have a temperature, though not all the time,” she said in the statement.

“I have difficulty breathing and pain in my muscles, and fatigue. I do not pant, but I am finding it hard to breathe. And I am just very, very tired. I have a real tiredness, and a heavy head. I am too tired to do anything.

She added that she had been shivering every night and her symptoms did not feel like a normal cold.

There are no confirmed cases of the virus in the jail but Iran is one of the worst affected countries from the outbreak – 77 people have died out of at least 2,300 confirmed cases.

But human rights groups have expressed concern at the lack of hygiene provisions for prisoners in Iran.

On Friday the Centre for Human Rights in Iran said it was "extremely concerned" by reports that prisoners in Iran lack access to medicines as well as hygiene and sanitary products amid fast rising death toll from the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

Updated: March 3, 2020 08:34 PM

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