Family of British mother held in Iran hopeful as case status changed

Updated: 

The family of a British woman jailed in Iran have said they are feeling "more positive" her ordeal may soon end after her case status was changed to eligible for early release.

The latest twist in the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who holds dual UK-Iranian nationality, comes after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's visit to the country earlier this month.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's sister, Rebecca Jones, said: "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.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case is now marked for early release (Family handout/PA)
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case is now marked for early release (Family handout/PA)

"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."

Richard Ratcliffe said he was "cautious" about the news but hoped his wife, who was arrested in 2016 during a holiday visit to show their daughter Gabriella to her parents, would be home soon.

He told Sky News: "It is definitely a positive step. I'm probably a bit cautious to see just how positive.

Richard Ratcliffe with a picture drawn by their daughter Gabriella (John Stillwell/PA)
Richard Ratcliffe with a picture drawn by their daughter Gabriella (John Stillwell/PA)

"There has not been any confirmation to her from the prosecutor so, what she got told, there is still some paperwork to finalise, so hopefully by Christmas, but Christmas is not very far away at all.

"But it's definitely good news and fingers crossed now."

Foreign Secretary on Iran visit: "I will stress my grave concerns about our dual national consular cases and press for their release where there are humanitarian grounds to do so" https://t.co/bSamUStD36pic.twitter.com/MWypH7GDaf

-- Foreign Office ?? (@foreignoffice) December 9, 2017

He said since Mr Johnson's visit there had been "incremental improvement" in her case, including allowing her more phone calls.

"I think it feels like the tide has turned, certainly," he added.