TEHRAN: Iran’s former reformist president Mohammad Khatami has called for the release of all political prisoners, notably opposition chiefs Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, a newspaper reported yesterday.
“We’re happy with the (judiciary’s) announced pardon of 80 prisoners but we ask: ‘Why this number?’” the reformist daily Etemad quoted him as saying.
“Let’s say it’s all of them, apart from those who have committed crimes,” he added.
Last week, the authorities freed around 15 reformists, journalists and lawyers, notably prominent rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.
They have also announced pardons for 80 others rounded up in connection with anti-government protests claiming massive fraud in the 2009 re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Dozens of others are still behind bars, though legal authorities have not said how many.
“Everyone must make an effort to end the house arrests... This is in everybody’s interest,” said Khatami, referring to Mousavi and Karroubi, who have been kept incommunicado since February 2011.
Both men were candidates in the 2009 presidential election and spearheaded the protests its outcome.
In New York, the father of a US citizen imprisoned in Iran forwarded a letter to President Hassan Rowhani on Wednesday pleading with him to free his son on humanitarian grounds.
Ali Hekmati, who is originally from Iran, said he was “very sick” with a brain tumour and wanted to spend time with his son Amir, who was jailed on spying allegations.
Ali Hekmati wrote a letter that was personally delivered by a religious leader to Rowhani, who is in New York on a visit to the United Nations, a family spokesman said.
Amir Hekmati, a former Marine, was sentenced to death in January 2012 on charges of espionage. The judiciary later reversed the death sentence, but Hekmati was not among a batch of Iranian political prisoners freed ahead of Rowhani’s visit.
“He is not a spy, I can assure you of that,” Ali Hekmati said.