Iran’s Supreme Leader pardoned ‘tens of thousands’ of prisoners

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with a group of girls who have entered puberty in Tehran, Iran, February 3, 2023. Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran/WANA (West Asian News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

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

However, the pardon granted by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came with conditions, as detailed in state media reports, which said the measure would not apply to any of the many dual nationals held in Iran.

State news agency IRNA said those accused of “corruption on the ground” – a death sentence brought against some protesters, four of whom were executed – would also not be pardoned.

Nor will it apply to those accused of “spying for foreign agencies” or those “linked to groups hostile to the Islamic Republic,” state media reported.

Iran was engulfed in protests following the death of a young Iranian Kurdish woman in the custody of the country’s morality police last September. Iranians from all walks of life participated, marking one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.

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

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

In a letter to Khamenei asking for a pardon, Justice Chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said: “During the recent events, many people, especially the youth, have committed wrongful acts and crimes as a result of the indoctrination and propaganda of the enemy.

The protests have slowed considerably since the hangings began.

“Since the plans of foreign enemies and anti-revolutionary currents have been foiled, many of these youths 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 “facing charges of spying for foreign agencies, direct contact with foreign agents, committing intentional killing and wounding, (and) committing destruction and burning of government property.”

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

A Norway-based Iranian human rights group said this week that at least 100 detained protesters face the possible death penalty.

Amnesty International criticized Iranian authorities for what it called “fake trials designed to intimidate those taking part in the popular uprising that has rocked Iran.”

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