Baneira was arrested in early November during anti-government protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini

Iran releases Spaniard Ana Baneira after five months in prison

photo_camera AP/VAHID SALEMI - Ebrahim Raisi, Iranian President

After five months imprisoned in Iran, Spanish national Ana Baneira is back home. The 24-year-old Galician woman, a member of a human rights NGO, was arrested at the beginning of November as part of the anti-regime protests following the assassination of Mahsa Amini.

Baneira is already on her way to Spain via Dubai, diplomatic sources told Europa Press. The news agency also said that, after her release, the activist had a telephone conversation with the Spanish Foreign Minister, Jos茅 Manuel Albares, whom she thanked for his efforts to secure her release. The diplomatic sources also added that Baneira is in good condition after these months.

The Spanish minister expressed his "satisfaction" at her release. Albares revealed that he had spoken on several occasions with his Iranian counterpart, to whom he asked that Baneira be released "immediately because the charges against her were completely unfounded", reports EFE.

On the other hand, El Mundo indicates that the release has come about after "long and intense negotiations", especially on the part of the Spanish ambassador to Iran, 脕ngel Losada, who has led the negotiations with the Iranian regime and the Iranian judges. Losada "has had to work very hard", diplomats told the Spanish newspaper. The ambassador was in charge of picking up the activist after her release from prison.

Despite this good news, there is still another Spanish citizen imprisoned in Iran. Santiago S谩nchez, who was on his way to Qatar to watch the World Cup, was arrested in October after visiting Amini's grave.

Albares said he would continue to make representations until S谩nchez is also released "from an unfounded detention". "Today is a very happy day and the happiness will be complete when Santiago is also released," the Spanish minister said.

Following the outbreak of protests in mid-September, Iranian authorities arrested several foreigners, most of them from France, Italy and Poland, further straining relations between Iran and the West. However, foreign nationals and dual nationals were already held in Iranian prisons before the protests.

In this regard, Iranian judicial authorities recently sentenced Iranian-German citizen Jamshid Sharmahd to death on terrorism-related charges. Sharmahd was arrested in 2020 and convicted of "corruption on earth", a charge on which several of those arrested during the current protests have been charged.

Since the demonstrations began, at least 488 people, including 64 children and 39 women, have been killed by Iranian security forces. At least 107 protesters are at risk of execution, death penalty charges or sentences. So far, the regime has already hanged four men for their involvement in the protests. In addition, at least 55 people have been executed in the first 26 days of 2023, according to Iran Human Rights.

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