Iran’s supreme leader pardons ‘tens of thousands’ of prisoners

DUBAI – Iran’s supreme leader has pardoned “tens of thousands” of prisoners, including some arrested during recent anti-government protests, state news agency IRNA reported on Sunday, after a deadly crackdown of the state helped quell the nationwide unrest.

However, the pardon approved by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came with conditions, according to details announced in state media, which said the measure would not apply to any of the many dual nationals detained in Iran.

State news agency IRNA said those accused of “corruption on land” – a capital charge leveled against some protesters, four of whom were executed – would also not be pardoned.

It would also not apply to those accused of “espionage on behalf of foreign agencies” or those “affiliated with groups hostile to the Islamic Republic”, state media reported.

Iran has been swept by protests after the death of a young Iranian Kurdish woman in the custody of the country’s vice squad last September. Iranians from all walks of life took part, marking one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.

Iran’s supreme leader prays with little Iranian girls during a ceremony called the “Celebration of Angels” in Tehran, Iran, February 3, 2023.

According to the militant HRANA news agency, around 20,000 people have been arrested in connection with the protests, which authorities have accused Iran’s foreign enemies of fomenting.

Rights groups say more than 500 people have been killed in the crackdown, including 70 minors. At least four people were hanged, according to Iranian justice.

In a letter to Khamenei asking for a pardon, judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said: “During recent events, a number of people, especially young people, have committed bad deeds and crimes as a result of indoctrination and propaganda of the enemy.

Protests have slowed considerably since the hangings began.

“Since foreign enemies and the plans of anti-revolutionary currents were foiled, many of these young people now regret their actions,” Ejei wrote.

Khamenei approved the pardons in honor of the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

It would not apply to those “who are accused of spying for foreign agencies, having direct contact with foreign agents, committing intentional murder and bodily harm, (and) having committed destruction and arson of State property”.

“Naturally, those who do not express regret for their activities and undertake in writing not to repeat these activities will not be pardoned,” Deputy Chief Justice Sadeq Rahimi said, according to state media.

The Norwegian-based human rights group Iran said this week that at least 100 detained protesters were at risk of being sentenced to death.

Amnesty International has criticized Iranian authorities for what it called “a sham trial designed to intimidate participants in the popular uprising that rocked Iran”.


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