IRAN is temporarily freeing 54,000 low-risk inmates in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus and jailed Brit mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe could be temporarily released.
Nazanin, who is in prison in Iran over false spying charges, is expected to be one of the freed prisoners, according to her MP Tulip Siddiq, however, this has not been fully confirmed by Tehran.
According to her husband’s statement on Saturday, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has contracted the virus at Tehran’s Evin prison where she is being held.
However Iran’s judiciary spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, denied the claim on Tuesday, saying that she is in good health.
Esmaili said that Nazanin has since been in contact with her family “to tell them about her good health”.
According to the British embassy, Tehran has not tested her for the virus and has refused to let any health professionals in to assess her.
It has not been confirmed whether Nazanin will be furloughed.
Mr Esmaili told reporters that the 54,000 inmates, roughly 22.5 per cent of its estimated total prison population, were granted furlough (temporary leave) after testing negative and posting bail.
“Security prisoners” sentenced to more than five years will not be let out.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed for five years in 2016 after being convicted of espionage charges that, backed by the UK, she has always denied.
Iran is currently seeing one of the worst outbreaks as the virus has infected around 2500 Iranians and has killed at least 77 people in less than two weeks.
Iranian authorities are accused of covering up the real figures and independent reports have questioned their integrity at a time when trust in the regime is at an all-time low.
Cases linked to Iran have also been reported by Afghanistan, Canada, Lebanon, Pakistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Iran’s parliament has been suspended after a number of senior Iranian officials, including around ten per cent of Iranian lawmakers have contracted the virus.
High profile people who have been infected include the head of the emergency medical services, Pirhossein Kolivand.
Ayatollah Khamenei responded to criticism that his regime is burying its head in the sand today.
He said: “Our officials have reported with sincerity and transparency since day one.
“However, some countries where the outbreak has been more serious have tried to hide it.”
Iran’s outbreak, which he downplayed as “temporary, it isn’t something extraordinary” that “will not last long in the country and will pack up”.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Saeed Namaki said a nationwide screening campaign would begin on Wednesday, via smartphone app.