COVID-19: Iran temporarily frees 85,000 prisoners

Iran has temporarily freed about 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners, in a bid to decongest prisons amidst coronavirus epidemic, a spokesman for its judiciary, Gholamhossein Esmaili, said on Tuesday.

“Some 50 per cent of those released are security-related prisoners. Also in the jails we have taken precautionary measures to confront the outbreak,” said Esmaili.

Esmaili did not elaborate on when those released would have to return to jail.

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, on March 10 said he had asked Tehran to free all political prisoners temporarily from its overcrowded and disease-ridden jails.

He said the directive was to help stem the spread of coronavirus.

Rehman had earlier in the month revealed that Iranian prisoners had been infected with coronavirus (COVID-19).

Iran’s death toll 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. (Reuters/NAN)