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Iran Administration Solicited Furlough For Imprisoned Dual-Citizens, Political Prisoners

Combo imaged of four Iranian dual nationals who are detained in Iran, (R to L) British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Iranian-American Karen Vafadari, Iranian- American Siamak Namazi, and British-Iranian Kamal Froughi.

Iran's Judiciary Spokesman on Friday said the administration of President Hassan Rouhani had appealed to the Judiciary to grant furlough to imprisoned dual-citizens and political prisoners to protect them from coronavirus infection in prison.

In a program broadcast by Channel 5 of the state-run television on April 17, Gholam-Hossein Esmaili said the Judiciary had received two communications from Justice Minister Seyed Alireza Avai that called on the Judiciary to grant furlough to "security and dual-citizen prisoners".

"We responded to explain the conditions for benefiting from furlough and said citizenship had nothing to do with it. We also replied that a considerable number of security prisoners had been granted furlough," Esmaili said.

Iran does not recognize dual citizenship and treats Iranian dual citizens solely as its own nationals. It also refers to all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience as "security prisoners".

Many of the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience serving time in Iranian prisons have been denied furlough. The only high-profile dual-citizen who has been allowed to go on furlough is Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliff, a 40-year-old British citizen. Ms. Zaghari who is required to wear an anklet while on furlough, has been serving a prison term since her arrest in 2016 on alleged charges of spying.

Iran also released Kamal Foroughi an 80-year-old British-Iranian business consultant on April 1 and allowed him to go home nine years after being arrested on spying charges.

Other dual-citizens including U.S. citizens Morad Tahbaz, Siamak Namazi, British citizen Anoush Ashouri, and French National Fariba Adelkhah are among the high-profile dual-nationals serving prison terms on similar charges who have been denied furlough despite the coronavirus epidemic.

The Judiciary has also refused to allow rights activists Narges Mohammadi and Nasrin Sotoudeh and many other high-profile political prisoners to go on temporary leave from prison despite the epidemic and even in view of serious health problems.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, and a number of U.N. experts in a report released on Friday said Iran should expand its temporary release of thousands of detainees to include prisoners of conscience and dual and foreign nationals who are still behind bars despite the serious risk of being infected with COVID-19.

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    Maryam Sinaiee

    Maryam Sinaiee is a British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National, who contributes to Radio Farda.