Amid coronavirus crisis, Iran temporarily frees 85,000 prisoners

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Photograph courtesy/France24

The Islamic Republic of Iran has temporarily freed about 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners in response to the coronavirus epidemic.

According to a report by by Reuters the announcement was made by a judiciary spokesman said on Tuesday,

The death toll in Iran 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.

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

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

Officials have blamed US sanctions, reimposed on Tehran since Washington quit Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with six powers, for hampering Tehran’s fight against the coronavirus.

Tehran has called on other countries to back its call for lifting of US sanctions. Sources told Reuters on Monday that Washington was unlikely to ease sanctions on Iran despite an appeal from China that it do so because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, Iran said it had asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for $5 billion in emergency funding to combat the outbreak.
The United Arab Emirates, a rival of Iran, has put aside differences to lend support by sending two planes carrying 32 tonnes of medical supplies, including gloves and surgical masks.

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