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Iran set to pardon thousands detained in protests, state media says

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Iranian officials said that “tens of thousands” of people jailed during the country’s ongoing protests would be pardoned or have their sentences reduced, the country’s state media reported Sunday.

News of the pardon was communicated by the state-run IRNA News Agencywhich said that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had “agreed to amnesty and reduced punishment for tens of thousands of convicts, including the detainees of the recent riots in Iran.”

The decree was made by Khamenei as part of an annual pardon undertaken prior to the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Washington Post reported that 3,400 prisoners were released from captivity during last year’s anniversary, seemingly much less than the tens of thousands that were promised pardons on Sunday.

However, the amnesty agreement came with a variety of caveats, with many prisoners appearing to be ineligible for reduced sentences. This includes prisoners who committed foreign espionage, had direct contact with foreign governments, murdered or injured officials, or those accused by a private plaintiff, per IRNA.

The pardons come as Iran continues to battle nationwide protests over the country’s ruling clerical party, which comes following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Protests and violence broke out across Iran after Amini was arrested for not wearing a hijab and later died in police custody.

Numerous Western outlets have reported that thousands of people have been arrested and imprisoned since the protests began, and summary executions have also taken place. Activist news agency HRNA reported that at least 20,000 people have been placed behind bars, per the post, although this number is unconfirmed.

While Iran has previously admitted that it was jailing dissidents, The Associated Press noted that the statement from IRNA saw Iran “acknowledging for the first time the scale of the crackdown.”

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