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Iran denies parole for imprisoned British-Iranian and rights activist

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Iranian Narges Mohammadi denied conditional release
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe embracing her daughter Gabriella in Damavand, Iran following her release from prison for three days (AFP)

Jailed British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi have been denied conditional release by Iran's prosecutor general, according to state media.

"We had requested conditional parole and furlough for both Nazanin Zaghari and Narges Mohammadi, and the prosecutor general has disagreed with both," said Mahmoud Behzadirad, the lawyer for the two, as quoted late Saturday by state news agency IRNA.

"Conditional parole is my clients' legal right," the lawyer added.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in 2016 as she was leaving Iran after taking her then 22-month-old daughter to visit her family. She had been working for Thomson Reuters Foundation, the media organisation's philanthropic arm.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to five years in jail for sedition.

Mohammadi, 47, was the spokeswoman for the Centre of Human Rights Defenders in Iran and had campaigned against the death penalty.

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Originally serving a six-year sentence dating from 2011, she had been released on bail before being arrested again on new charges in 2015. The mother-of-two was then sentenced to 16 years in prison for "forming and managing an illegal group" among other charges, with a minimum of 10 years having to be served.

The human rights activist reportedly suffers from a neurological disease that causes muscular paralysis.

She "must be examined... at least every six months but has not been for several months now," the lawyer said, noting that even the intelligence ministry, as the security body handling the case, had agreed to the leave.

"Zaghari has been examined by a psychiatrist several times and is in a situation similar to Narges Mohammadi," Behzadirad added.

The British-Iranian's daughter, Gabriela, returned to Britain in October after having stayed with relatives in Iran since her mother's detention, visiting her every week.

The two women started a three-day hunger strike in January and ended it after being allowed to resume medical treatment outside the prison, according to Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband.