The head of the Tehran Judiciary Office has rejected British media reports that Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari – now serving time in Iran for sedition — might be released in a swap deal.
Gholam Hossein Esmaili said, “None of the claims Western media have so far made with regard to this case is verifiable by the judicial authorities,” the Tasnim news agency reported.
“Apart from the [prison term] sentence that the individual is currently serving, she is facing a case involving another accusation, which has been sent to the court and the legal proceedings are underway,” he added.
Esmaili noted that the court has issued no sentence with regard to Zaghari’s new case and that it is still unclear whether she will be cleared or not.
“The court can convict or acquit her. If she is convicted, we don’t know what the sentence will be. So we don’t know when she will be able to be released,” the Iranian Judiciary’s Mizanonline news service quoted the official as saying.
On Thursday, The Independent cited Zaghari’s lawyer as saying that she could be released “within a couple of weeks.”
Iran’s intelligence authorities arrested Zaghari at the Imam Khomeini International Airport in April 2016 as she was on her way back to London. She was subsequently put on trial and handed a five-year jail term after being found guilty of spying and spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic.
As per the released documents, Zaghari had played an active and leading role in holding training courses for recruits at BBC World Service Trust and the ZigZag Academy.
The ZigZag academy, the documents suggest, pursued two main goals, namely training and recruitment of human resources for the launch of BBC Persian Service and deployment of undercover reporters in Iran to gather intelligence.
She identified potential Iranian recruits and invited them to attend the training courses, received and reviewed their resumes, managed financial affairs related to the courses in Malaysia and India, picked trainers, assessed the performance of the participants and managed the ZigZag Academy’s websites.
The Telegraph has cited unidentified sources as saying that London was planning to transfer over £400 million ($528 million) in debt to Iran to have Zaghari released.
The debt is related to an arms deal signed during the 1970s, with the paper saying that Britain had sought legal advice about the transfer of money to Iran.
The British tabloid daily, The Sun, said Iran had demanded that Britain return the money which the former Shah of Iran paid in 1979 for 1,750 Chieftain tanks and other vehicles, almost none of which was eventually delivered.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qassemi, dismissed the report earlier in November, saying that “the British government’s debt pay-off to Iran has no connection to the case of Mrs. Nazanin Zaghari and these two issues are two separate cases.”