British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran back in court on new charge

Campaigners hold posters demanding the release of British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is serving a five-year jail sentence in Iran for alleged sedition. (AFP)
Updated 23 May 2018
0

British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran back in court on new charge

LONDON: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran for two years, has appeared in court to face a new charge, her husband said on Monday.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was summoned to a court in Tehran on May 19, according to a statement from Richard Ratcliffe, who runs the Free Nazanin campaign group.
The charge is for “spreading propaganda against the regime,” which she denies, he said.
On Sunday, she was allowed to speak to the British ambassador to Tehran, Rob Macaire.
“This is the first time that she has been allowed any contact with the embassy in over two years,” he said.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation — the media organization’s philanthropic arm — was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016.
She is serving a five-year jail sentence for alleged sedition — a charge she has always denied.
The couple have a three-year-old daughter Gabriella who is being looked after by Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s parents in Tehran.
She has asked for temporary release from prison next month to celebrate her daughter’s fourth birthday.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited Iran in December last year to press for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release on humanitarian grounds.


East Libyan forces advance rapidly to retake key oil ports

Smoke and flame rise from an oil storage tank that was set on fire amid fighting between rival factions at Ras Lanuf terminal. ( National Oil Corporation via Reuters)
Updated 4 min 36 sec ago
0

East Libyan forces advance rapidly to retake key oil ports

BENGHAZI, Libya/VIENNA: East Libyan forces said on Thursday they had rapidly retaken the shuttered oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, where the head of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said he hoped operations would resume in a “couple of days.”

Staff were evacuated from the key terminals in Libya’s eastern oil crescent and exports were suspended last Thursday when armed opponents of eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar attacked the ports and occupied them.

The closure has led to daily production losses of up to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd), and two oil storage tanks were destroyed or badly damaged by fires during the fighting.

For the past week, Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has been pounding the area with air strikes as it mobilized to retake the ports, and it continued to target its rivals with air strikes on Thursday as they retreated.

Ahmed Al-Mismari, a spokesman for the LNA which Haftar built up during his three-year campaign to seize Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi, said troops had retaken Es Sider by mid-morning and were clashing with opponents as they advanced west.

Mismari said Ras Lanuf, which includes a residential town, an air strip, storage tanks and a refinery, alongside the oil terminal, had also been taken by the LNA.

“Our armed forces fully control the Ras Lanuf district and the enemy suffered large losses in lives and equipment,” he said.

Libya’s national production was cut to between 600,000 and 700,000 bpd from more than one million bpd by clashes in the oil crescent, but NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said he was expecting a quick restart.

“Libyan production is very low but we are going to resume very soon,” he told reporters in Vienna. “After a couple of days we will resume, we start our operations hopefully.”

The NOC has blamed the attack on the terminals on militias led by Ibrahim Jathran, who blockaded oil crescent ports for several years before losing control of them in September 2016 to the LNA.

The LNA has said the Benghazi Defense Brigades, a coalition of anti-Haftar fighters that previously tried to take the oil crescent and advance on Benghazi, were also involved.

Haftar is the dominant figure in eastern Libya and is aligned with a government and parliament based in the east opposed to an internationally recognized government in the capital, Tripoli.

He has controlled Benghazi, which lies northeast of the oil crescent, since late last year.