1:28 am - Sunday November 8, 2015

Iran releases British-Iranian woman on bail

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Mideast Iran Volleyball Detention

TEHRAN: Iranian authorities released a British-Iranian woman on bail, the semi-official ISNA news agency said.

The report quoted Sousan Moshtaghian, mother of Ghoncheh Ghavami, as saying a judge released her daughter on nearly $30,000 bail ahead of an appeal.

“My daughter has insisted in the initial court that she is not guilty,” said Moshtaghian. “We are hopeful that she will be acquitted in the appeal court.”

Ghavami was detained in June after trying to attend a men’s volleyball match between Iran and Italy, in defiance of a push by hard-liners to enact full gender segregation.

The case highlighted limitations placed on women inside Iran and efforts by hard-line authorities to enforce strict interpretations of Islamic norms despite a policy of greater openness being pursued by moderate President Hassan Rouhani.

The mother said Ghavami will be free until an appeals court rules on her case. She confirmed that an initial ruling had sentenced Ghavami to a year in prison for “propagating against the ruling system.”

She said the family plans to hire a new lawyer for the appeal. The judiciary has said her case is linked to opposition work, not a volleyball match.

Britain had raised concerns about Ghoncheh Ghavami’s trial. She is a graduate of the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and had been volunteering to help street kids in Iran for a few months, her brother has said.

Women are usually banned from attending male-only matches in Iran, however earlier this month sports officials said they have reconsidered the limits and women will be allowed to attend the matches in the future. Ghavami tried to enter the stadium with other women to protest the ban, according to Amnesty International.

Female photographers inside the complex were also ordered to leave, though none were arrested.

Ghavami was held along with the other protesters for a few hours before being released. She was detained again a few days later. Amnesty said she had been held in solitary confinement for much of her time at Tehran’s Evin prison.

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