Iran frees Spanish activist held since November
Madrid, Feb 26 (EFE).- A Spanish human rights activist, who has been imprisoned in Iran since the beginning of November, was released by the Iranian authorities, Spain’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
Ana Baneira, 24, was arrested in November for allegedly participating in protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody.
According to foreign ministry sources, the young activist told Spanish foreign minister, José Manuel Albares, that she was in good health and joyful to be returning home.
The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported her arrest in November, without revealing the exact date or place.
Albares later reported that he had asked the Spanish embassy in Tehran to prioritize Baneira’s case alongside that of fellow Spaniard, Santiago Sánchez, who was arrested in October for allegedly visiting Amini’s grave.
In statements to journalists, Albares said that the young woman had been released on Saturday but that authorities waited to break the news until her plane had taken off from Tehran to travel to Spain via Dubai and Geneva (Switzerland).
The minister added that he had urged his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, to release the young woman “immediately, because the charges against her were completely unfounded.”
Following Baneira’s release from jail, “she was accompanied at all times by the Spanish ambassador” in Iran, Ángel Losada, Albares said.
The foreign affairs chief added that his team would continue to push for Sánchez’s release.
Baneira’s family said that the young activist would land in Spain on Saturday night but did not specify which airport she would arrive at.
“Once here, it should be her who decides when and how the next public statement should take place,” the family added.
Baneira is known in the northwestern region of Galicia for her community work and several local NGOs had requested her release.
Iranian authorities responded to widespread protests that kicked off after the young Kurdish woman’s killing in September with a violent crackdown that has left almost 500 people dead, nearly 20,000 arrested and four executed, according to NGOs.EFE