Last updated: 11 November, 2014

Iran volleyball woman held for “links with foreigners”

Iran's judiciary said Tuesday an Iranian-British woman arrested in June after trying to attend a men's volleyball match was being held for security reasons and over "links with foreigners".

Ghoncheh Ghavami’s lawyer said earlier this month that the 25-year-old law graduate from London had been sentenced at the start of November to a year in prison, but the judiciary on Monday denied any verdict has been reached.

The woman was arrested for having “acted against the security of the country and for links with foreigners”, Hadi Sadeghi, deputy chief of the judiciary’s cultural affairs department, said Tuesday.

He denied the lawyer’s account that Ghavami was detained over her presence near the volleyball stadium in Tehran.

To explain the almost five months she has spent in detention, Sadeghi said judges can order a provisional detention order to be extended for additional investigation of charges.

Ghavami was detained on June 20 at Azadi (“Freedom” in Farsi) Stadium where Iran’s national volleyball team was to play Italy, after female fans and even women journalists were told they would not be allowed to attend, leading to a brief demonstration.

She was released within hours but rearrested days later at a police station she had visited to reclaim items confiscated from her near the stadium.

Iran’s volleyball federation has said the sport’s governing body FIVB informed it that the country will not be able to host the under-19 world championships in 2015 as planned.

The FIVB announced Tuesday that it has awarded the tournament instead to Argentina.

The president of Iran’s volleyball federation, Mohammad Reza Davarzani, said Ghavami’s case was not related to volleyball and “to make a connection between a non-sporting activity and our sport is unfair”.