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No release before Christmas for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Iran says

Tehran's judiciary chief dismissed hopes of a swift release, possibly in time for Christmas, for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (photo), the Thomson Reuters Foundation manager serving a five-year jail sentence.

Gholamhossein Esmaili said there was no possibility she could be freed until she had been tried on additional charges filed last month of "spreading propaganda".

"Nazanin Zaghari has two cases - in the first, she has been convicted, but the second has yet to go to court and there is no verdict," Esmaili told the judiciary's Mizanonline news service.

"The court can convict or acquit her. If she is convicted, we don't know what the sentence will be. So we don't know when she will be able to be released."

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran airport on April 2016 after visiting relatives with her young daughter.

Iranian authorities accused her of links to mass protests in 2009, which she denies, and sentenced her to five years in jail for sedition. They do not recognise her dual Iranian-British nationality.

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe told AFP on Thursday that he had been told by an Iranian lawyer that she was now "marked for early release".

"He said there's still paperwork to finalise, but it should be over soon - days to weeks, not months or years."

On her being home in time for Christmas, Ratcliffe said there was "an outside shot". ■