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AFP
March 20, 2020

Iran to free 10,000 prisoners in Persian New Year

World

AFP
March 20, 2020

TEHRAN: Iran is to free “around 10,000 prisoners” in an amnesty marking the Persian New Year, Nowruz, on Friday, including half of those serving time for security offences, the judiciary said. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei grants several mass amnesties a year marking the major Islamic and national holidays but this week’s early releases come as Iran battles one of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks outside China. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili made no explicit reference to the coronavirus in an overnight statement carried by the judiciary’s Mizan Online website. The latest amnesty aims to “reduce the number of prisoners in light of the sensitive situation in the country”, Esmaili said. “Around half of those convicted of national security offences will benefit from this amnesty,” Esamili added without giving a figure. Previous amnesties have largely benefited common law prisoners so the judiciary’s decision on security prisoners was unusual. Mizan Online underlined the “unprecedented nature” of this week’s early releases for prisoners serving sentences of less than five years. Human rights group Amnesty International gave the amnesty a guarded welcome.