FILE PHOTO: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech in Tehran, Iran, January 8, 2021. Official Khamenei Website/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION/File Photo
The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, has approved the proposal of the country’s Judiciary to pardon or reduce the sentence of tens of thousands of prisoners, state news agency IRNA reported on 5 February.
Among the prisoners are people accused and convicted of participating in recent anti-government protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on 16 September 2022.
Khamenei has pardoned thousands of men and women using Article 110 of the Islamic Republic’s Constitution, which gives the Supreme Leader “the right to pardon or reduce the sentences of convicted persons on the recommendation of the head of the Judiciary.”
The amnesty proposal was made by Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejei, the head of the Judiciary, who wrote to Khamenei to inform him that a significant portion of the prisoners had expressed regret for their crimes and asked for forgiveness “after the disclosure of the plots hatched by foreign enemies and anti-revolutionary groups,” according to state media sources.
However, none of the numerous dual nationals held in Iran would be eligible for the pardon. Additionally, it would not apply to those accused of intentional homicide, the destruction of public property, or spying for foreign intelligence services.
This latest release comes after Iran announced a pardon on 6 December for 1,200 detainees arrested for participating in anti-government protests across the country.
Last November, Iran announced the release of 715 prisoners, with Iranian media suggesting that Tehran had issued pardons in the wake of its World Cup victory against Wales.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic has maintained that foreign powers and intelligence agencies – particularly western ones – were behind the unrest.
Among these agencies, Israel’s Mossad played a leading role in destabilization.
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry released a statement on 10 January announcing the arrest of two Israeli spy teams operating in the country, discovered by authorities after four Mossad teams were busted last December.
Iranian media quoted the ministry as saying that the Mossad was attempting to “take advantage” of the protests, riots, and general unrest in the country by planning to “assassinate a military official, conduct several acts of sabotage in big cities, and transfer huge quantities of explosives to Iran from the southern sea borders.”