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British Council says Iranian employee has been freed from prison, left Iran

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An Iranian employee of the British Council arrested in Tehran and later sentenced to 10 years in prison over internationally criticized espionage charges has been freed and traveled to the United Kingdom, the organization says.

Iranian authorities don’t immediately acknowledge the release of Aras Amiri. However, it comes amid ongoing negotiations in Vienna between Iran and world powers, including the UK, over its tattered 2015 nuclear deal.

The British Council says today that an appeal her lawyers made to Iran’s Supreme Court has been successful. Amiri worked for the council’s London office.

“We have always refuted the original charges made against Aras,” the council says in a statement. “We are very proud of her work in our London office as an arts program officer supporting a greater understanding and appreciation of Iranian culture in the UK”

Iran announced her conviction in 2019. Authorities there accused her of spying on cultural activities in Iran. The British Council previously said she traveled to Tehran to visit family on a private trip that didn’t involve her work at the nonpolitical organization, which works in arts, culture and education.

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