British-Iranian volleyball woman released on bail: brother

LONDON (AFP) - A British-Iranian woman arrested in Iran after trying to attend a men's volleyball match has been released on bail pending a decision by the Court of Appeal, her brother said on Sunday.

Ghoncheh Ghavami, a 25-year-old law graduate from London, "was released on bail just a couple of hours ago and she will stay with my parents" in Teheran, her brother Iman Ghavami said.

However, he said there remained the possibility that she would be returned to jail, as the Court of Appeal must still decide on how she must serve out her full sentence.

There was some confusion about her fate after Ghavami's lawyer said on Nov 2 that she had been handed a year in prison, only for the Iranian judiciary to insist that her case had still not been completed.

Her brother said that the verdict was handed down a few days ago, and she was sentenced to a year as well as two years of what he said were "travel restrictions".

"She might go back to prison," he said in London.

He said efforts to impose additional charges against his sister had failed and she was in the end sentenced for "propaganda against the regime".

After the verdict, he said his parents were seeking the release of their daughter on medical grounds.

She has gastrointestinal problems after going on hunger strike, and has also lost weight since being in prison.

"It was unexpected that she was released, it was out of the blue," Iman Ghavami said."My parents were trying to ask the judge to issue a medical leave for my sister and then he just decided that she should be released on bail." He said he had managed to speak to his sister for "just a few seconds - I think she sounded happy".

But he insisted: "Everyone knows that she didn't do anything. She shouldn't have been in prison for the past five months anyway."