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Iran's supreme leader pardons 'tens of thousands' of prisoners

The pardon does not apply to detainees on death row, dual nationals and those accused of 'corruption on earth'
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei giving a speech in Tehran on 3 February 2023 (Reuters)

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has pardoned "tens of thousands of convicts", including those arrested in recent anti-government protests, state news agency IRNA has reported.

Khamenei's statement on Sunday said he had "agreed to the proposal of the head of the judiciary to pardon or commute the sentences of a significant number of convicts" in honour of the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

It was not immediately clear how many of these were detained in connection with the protests.

The pardons will not apply to dual nationals, those accused of committing murder, those charged with "spying for foreign agencies" or those "affiliated with groups hostile to the Islamic Republic".

IRNA said those accused of "corruption on earth" - a capital charge brought against some protesters, four of whom have been executed - would also not be pardoned.

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The announcement came on the same day that journalist Elnaz Mohammadi, who works for the reformist newspaper Hammihan, was detained by authorities.

Mohammadi's sister, Elahe, who is also a journalist, is already in custody after reporting on the death of Mahsa Amini in custody after she was arrested for allegedly violating the Islamic republic's laws on dress.

Elahe was charged with "propaganda against the system and conspiracy to act against national security", offences that are punishable by death.

Iran erupted into anti-goverrnment protests in September following Amini's death, as Iranian forces led a crack down on protesters, killing hundreds and jailing thousands.

Human Rights Activists News Agency has reported that about 20,000 people have been arrested in connection with the protests, which authorities accuse Iran's foreign enemies of fomenting. 

Norway-based group Iran Human Rights last week said that at least 109 people are facing execution in protest-related cases.

Protests have slowed considerably since the hangings began.

In a letter to Khamenei requesting the pardon, judiciary head Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said: "During recent events, a number of people, especially young people, committed wrong actions and crimes as a result of the indoctrination and propaganda of the enemy.

"Since the foreign enemies and anti-revolutionary currents' plans have been foiled, many of these youth now regret their actions," Ejei wrote.

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