A British nurse, Daphne Parish, was freed today after she had been sentenced to 15 years in jail last March for helping a British-based Iranian journalist who was hanged by Baghdad for spying.
Parish, 53, was released from prison after a personal appeal by Zambian President Kenneth D. Kaunda.
"It is true that President Kaunda intervened," Milimo Punabantu, Kaunda's special assistant, told Reuters in Lusaka, the Zambia capital.
"President Kaunda is very close to (Iraqi) President Saddam Hussein," said Punabantu, confirming reports that Parish was flying to Lusaka.
Parish was convicted and sentenced by a revolutionary court in March for her part in driving journalist Farzad Bazoft to the site of a secret military installation to check reports of an explosion.
Parish's daughter, Michelle de Vries, who returned to England on Sunday after visiting her mother in prison, said the release was "a total surprise."
"I think I burst into tears and then I started dancing and jumping around the room," she said.
Foreign Office Minister William Waldegrave said Parish was in good health. "She was in pretty good shape and has been well-treated in prison."
"I hope it was part of a move to put relations with Britain back on a more even keel," he added.
Britain recalled its ambassador from Iraq in protest against the hanging in March of Bazoft, 31, who was on assignment for the British newspaper The Observer at the time of his arrest last September.
The hanging of Bazoft, after appeals by Britain for clemency, was widely condemned abroad and contributed to a deterioration in relations between Baghdad and the West.
Bazoft appeared on Iraqi television shortly before his trial and confessed to spying for Israel and British intelligence. The British government dismissed the confession as trial by television.