DUBAI: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei agreed yesterday to pardon or reduce the sentences of 920 people, the official IRNA news agency reported, in a customary gesture to mark the anniversary of the Islamic Republic.
It was the second large-scale pardon this year after Iran’s paramount clerical leader pardoned or eased the sentences of 878 people in honour of the birthday of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in January.
IRNA did not say whether those pardoned yesterday included any of the nearly 900 people the UN special rapporteur on human rights says are currently in jail for political offences.
Since his landslide election victory last summer, Iranian President Hassan Rowhani, a relative moderate, has promised to increase political freedoms and some 80 political prisoners were freed in September.
Iran, which this year marks the 35th anniversary of the Islamic revolution that overthrew the Shah, holds 895 political prisoners, according to a report by the UN special rapporteur for human rights, Ahmad Shaheed..
Iran has refused to let Shaheed enter Iran, saying its human rights record is good and accusing the West of using the issue as a pretext to add pressure to a country already under economic sanctions for its nuclear activities.