Iran has temporarily freed about 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners in response to the coronavirus epidemic, a judiciary spokesman said on Tuesday.
Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said only those serving sentences of less than five years had been freed, while political prisoners and others charged with heavier sentences linked to their participation in anti-government protests remained in jail.
“Also in the jails we have taken precautionary measures to confront the outbreak,” Esmaili said.
He did not elaborate on when those released would have to return to jail.
On March 10, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, said he had asked Tehran to free all political prisoners temporarily from its overcrowded and disease-ridden jails to help stem the spread of coronavirus.
The death toll in Iran from the coronavirus has reached 853 and a total of 14,991 people have been confirmed infected across the country, one of the worst national outbreaks outside China, where the new virus originated.