By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
TEHRAN (Worthy News) – Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday pardoned “tens of thousands” of prisoners, including some detained in recent anti-government protests, but many inmates still face execution.
The pardon approved by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came with conditions, state-run news agency IRNA said, adding that the measure would not apply to the many dual nationals held in Iran.
In a letter to Khamenei requesting the pardon, judiciary head Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said: “During recent events, a number of people, especially young people, committed wrong actions and crimes as a result of the indoctrination and propaganda of the enemy.”
“Since the foreign enemies and anti-revolutionary currents’ plans have been foiled, many of these youth now regret their actions,” Ejei wrote.
Khamenei approved the pardons in honor of the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
It was not clear how many, if any, Christians would be among those freed. Several Christians mainly converts from Islam, have been held on what their supporters view as trumped-up charges related to their faith in Christ.
And there were also doubts Sunday how many protesters would be released.
State media already warned that among those excluded from the pardon were Iranians convicted of spying, armed action, committing murder, or causing injury. In addition, members of certain groups or people having contact “with agents of foreign intelligence services” or destroying public property stay behind bars, suggested the state-controlled Fars News Agency.
Other inmates will be released only “after expressing remorse and pledging not to repeat these security-related offenses,” Fars said.
Also disqualified, Fars said, are prisoners convicted of being “an enemy of Allah”— a charge leveled against most of the 19 protesters who were reportedly executed or were now on death row. Christians have faced similar accusations.
Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, fears that, at most, a small number of low-level protesters might be released among other inmates.
Officially, four have already been executed for crimes connected to the protests, but the actual figure is likely higher. In January, two men were hanged for killing a member of Iran’s security forces, authorities acknowledged.
The pair appealed before their deaths, saying they had been tortured.
Besides those executed, rights groups say over 500 have been killed in Tehran’s crackdown on anti-government protests, including 70 minors.
The HRANA activist newsagency estimates that about 20,000 people were arrested over the protests, which the authorities accused Iran’s foreign enemies of fomenting.
Iran has seen nationwide protests following the death of a young Iranian Kurdish woman in the custody of the country’s morality police last September.
Mahsa Amini, 22, was arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab, or headscarf, “improperly” – violating Iran’s strict dress code for women. Her family says she was beaten to death, charges the police deny.
Iranians from different backgrounds participated in protests marking one of the biggest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.
The Norway-based Iran Human Rights group said this week that at least 100 detained protesters faced possible death sentences.
Advocacy group Amnesty International condemned Iranian authorities for “sham trials designed to intimidate those participating in the popular uprising that has rocked Iran.”
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