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British-Iranian law student freed on bail

Sentenced to one year in jail for propaganda offences against the Iranian government earlier this month, Ghoncheh Ghavami was released on Sunday
The 25-year-old has been released after posting bail of around $30,000 (Twitter/@LotteLeicht1)

A British-Iranian law graduate detained in Tehran since June soon after watching a men's volleyball match has been released on bail, but will not be allowed to return to the UK, according to Britain’s Foreign Office.

Ghoncheh Ghavami, 25, was released on Sunday after paying bail of around $30,000 and is banned for two years from leaving the country, her mother, Susan Moshtaghian, told the Iranian Students' News Agency.

Ghavami has been sentenced to one year in jail for propaganda offences against the Iranian government on 2 November. 

First arrested after watching a volleyball match in a Tehran stadium in June, Ghavami was released several hours later. She was then rearrested days later when she returned to a police station to reclaim confiscated personal belongings.

Ghavami’s family and supporters said she was held for trying to watch the match. But last week, Tehran’s prosecutor’s office said she was arrested for having contact with “opposition based abroad”, not for attending the match.

“After investigation, it seems she had participated in propaganda against the regime, had links with satellite TV channels, including BBC Persian, and the opposition based abroad and participated in demonstrations against the regime,” according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office.

Iran bars contact with Farsi-language media such as BBC Persian and Voice of America, which are seen as tools of Western imperialism.

The case has become become the centre of a struggle between warring factions in Tehran, according to media reports. While moderate groups have hoped to limit the damage caused by international outrage, hardliners have pressed for Ghavani to be charged with spying.

Spying could carry a lengthier sentence of up to six years.

Ghavami had gone on two hunger strikes since her arrest in June, in October and November, in protest against her detention.

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