Tom King, BA Politics
Former SOAS Student Ghoncheh Ghavami has been released on bailing while she awaits a Court of Appeal hearing.
Last month her lawyer claimed to have seen legal papers stating she had been found guilty of the charge of propaganda against the state and was to be sentenced to a year in prison. Her family also fear that the sentence involves a two year travel ban.
However, the verdict was not publicly confirmed and prosecutors now say her case is under review. They have also told an Iranian news agency that the charges brought against Ghavami related to her involvement in opposition protest abroad and not a protest held in June at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium against the ban on women attending sport matches.
Ghavami was released on 23rd November due to health concerns and her brother has said she will be having a full medical check-up over “intestinal problems”.
Initially following the volleyball match protest, Ghavami has been held in detention since June and spent 41 days in solitary confinement. She has also gone on hunger strike for a number of periods.
She will now stay with her parents in Tehran until her hearing at the Court of Appeal. The Iranian Sharq newspaper claims her family paid £24,000 ($38,000) in bail to ensure her release.
Ghavami’s mother Susan said of her release “Ghoncheh returned home from prison. We picked her up at 3 pm from Qarchak prison.”
“We thank all of you that stayed with us and I hope the court accept the complete innocence of my daughter. Thank god.”
Amnesty International has been pursuing Ghavami’s case over the summer and in a recent statement said “Ghoncheh is a prisoner of conscience, punished simply for calling for equality. Iran must drop the charges against her immediately.”
In the weeks running up to her trial, over 40,000 people contacted Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei and over 700,000 have signed an online petition calling for her release.
Speaking in Parliament last month, the UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the government was “”pleased to see the news that Ghoncheh Ghavami has been released on bail pending her appeal.”
He added that “the Prime Minister raised the case with President Rouhani when he met him at the UN General Assembly.”
“I have raised the case with Foreign Minister Zarif, and we will continue to do so.”
Despite these representations, Hammond said that the Iranian government “do not recognise our locus.”
“The Iranian constitution does not recognise the concept of dual nationality and therefore our protestations are received politely, but without any obvious effect.” he explained.