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Iran has temporarily freed 85,000 prisoners, including political ones, amid coronavirus (www.reuters.com)

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran has temporarily freed about 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners, a spokesman for its judiciary said on Tuesday, in response to the coronavirus epidemic.

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

On March 10, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran said he had asked Tehran to free all political prisoners temporarily from its overcrowded and disease-ridden jails to help stem the spread of coronavirus.

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.

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

Javaid Rehman, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, said earlier in March that Iranian prisoners have been infected with coronavirus.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by John Stonestreet and Alex Richardson

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