British-Iranian 'volleyball woman' Ghoncheh Ghavami released from Tehran jail, family says

The 25-year-old was arrested after trying to watch a men's volleyball match during a visit from west London

Adam Withnall
Sunday 23 November 2014 18:25
Ghoncheh Ghavami, of west London, was sentenced to one year in prison for trying to attend a volleyball game in Tehran
Ghoncheh Ghavami, of west London, was sentenced to one year in prison for trying to attend a volleyball game in Tehran

A British-Iranian woman who was jailed while trying to watch a volleyball match in Tehran has been released from prison, her family said.

Ghoncheh Ghavemi, 25, was arrested and sentenced to a year in jail for "propagating against the ruling system" after she and a group of other women tried to attend the men’s sports event on the 20 June.

Her family said that she has now been freed on bail until her court appeal, after she staged hunger strikes and hundreds of thousands of people signed a petition calling for her release.

Ms Ghavemi’s brother Iman Ghavami, 28, said: "She has been bailed until her court appeal, when she hopes to be vindicated.

"She was bailed for £20,000 and now wants to spend time with her family."

Her parents will now be reunited with their daughter, having previously described how they were refused a meeting when she was transferred to a new prison and that they were only allowed to speak to her on the phone.

Ms Ghavemi, from west London, was visiting her family when she was first arrested.

Andy Slaughter, the MP for Hammersmith & Shepherds Bush who has been working with the family for several months on the issue of Ms Ghavemi's detention, said her release was "excellent news".

"[It is] a tribute to the campaign her family in Britain and Iran have run over the past five months. Support for her has come from around the world: Ghoncheh is a young woman of great courage," he said.

"Though this is an important development we must continue the campaign until charges against her are dropped and she is free to travel outside Iran. With the family I will be meeting the Foreign Office Minister this week to discuss what more the UK Government can do for Ghoncheh, who is a British citizen."

When Ms Ghavemi was first detained in Iran, the country’s Revolutionary Guard released the rest of her group, but continued holding Ms Ghavemi and accused her of endangering the country’s national security.

Amnesty International said Ms Ghavami has been kept in solitary confinement for most of her imprisonment and faced threats against her life during her trial.

After her one-year jail sentence was handed down, Iranian regime hardliners reportedly pushed for her to be charged with spying. If those charges were brought, she could yet face a prison term of up to six years.

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