Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe freed temporarily from Iranian prison: Husband

British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was accused of links to mass protests in 2009 and was sentenced her to five years in jail for sedition. (YouTube)
Updated 23 August 2018

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe freed temporarily from Iranian prison: Husband

  • Richard Ratcliffe says his wife was released from Evin prison Thursday morning
  • He says Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s lawyer is hopeful the period of release can be extended

LONDON: British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been allowed to leave an Iranian prison for three days, her husband said Thursday.
Richard Ratcliffe says his wife was released from Evin prison and has been reunited in Iran with her 4-year-old daughter Gabriella. He says Zaghari-Ratcliffe's lawyer is hopeful the period of release can be extended.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested during a holiday with her toddler daughter in April 2016. Iranian authorities accused her of plotting against the government. Her family denies this, saying she was in Iran to visit family.
A former employee of the BBC World Service Trust, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was working for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency.
Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was heavily criticized last year after he claimed Zaghari-Ratcliffe was "teaching people journalism" when she was arrested. Although Johnson later corrected himself, Iranian state television highlighted his comments as justification for imprisoning her.
There was no immediate response from Iran's judiciary or its state-run media to her release Thursday.

However, officials rarely comment on such furloughs, especially when they involve people with Western ties.
As recently as May, Zaghari-Ratcliffe learned that she faced a new charge of "spreading propaganda against the regime," her husband said. It remains unclear if that threatened charge remains in play.


Philippines begins termination of US deal

Earlier, Duterte said he would give the US a month to restore Dela Rosa’s visa. (AP)
Updated 25 January 2020

Philippines begins termination of US deal

  • The move comes after Washington’s refusal to issue a visa to ally of President Duterte

MANILA: The Philippines has started the process of terminating the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which allows the deployment of US forces to the country to conduct military exercises, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced on Friday.
The move comes one day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to do away with the agreement if the US did not reinstate the visa of his political ally and former police chief, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa.
Although in a speech on Thursday night the president said he would give the US one month to restore Dela Rosa’s visa before terminating the VFA, Panelo told reporters the process had already begun.
“The President feels that we cannot sit down and watch idly,” he said, adding he had relayed the matter to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin.
Locsin, in a Twitter post on Friday, confirmed he had called Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana “to start the process of terminating the VFA.”
Lorenzana, in a statement on Friday evening, said that he would discuss with the president “the various scenarios concerning the possible termination of the VFA, and what future actions may be undertaken by the Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) regarding this matter.”
The defense chief said he could understand why the president was angered by the cancellation of Dela Rosa’s visa, over alleged extrajudicial killings in connection with the government’s anti-drug war.
“It is a direct affront to (the president) being the architect of the drug war upon his assumption of office,” the defense chief said.
He noted that Duterte ordered Dela Rosa when he was installed as police chief in 2016 to launch the drug war, and promised to back him. “He is just being true to his promise,” Lorenzana stressed.
Dela Rosa himself said details surrounding the revocation of his US visa remain unclear to him. He added that it “might be related” to the anti-drug war.
The Philippines Department of Justice said it was studying the “proper procedure to terminate the VFA.”
Responses from Philippine lawmakers have been mixed.
“In the absence of a Philippines Supreme Court ruling on the president’s power to unilaterally break a treaty or bilateral agreement like the VFA, without the consent of a 2/3 supermajority vote of the members of the senate, the president can do that without the senate’s approval or consent,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson said.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the VFA termination would work in favor of China, and so did not come as a surprise.
According to Lorenzana: “The termination of the VFA may be unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, and it is well within the right of the government to do so if it determines that the agreement no longer redounds to our national interest.
“Such a termination does not need the approval of the Philippine Congress. All that is required is that a notice of termination be served to the US government. The termination shall take effect 180 days after the date of the notice,” the defense chief stressed.