IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Iran's supreme leader pardons prisoners

/ Source: The Associated Press

Iran's supreme leader pardoned 81 jailed opposition supporters who had been found guilty of having a role in the unrest triggered by last June's disputed presidential election.

Wednesday's pardons were seen as a gesture of goodwill by Iran's leaders just days before the anniversary of the June 12 election, when the opposition says it will attempt to mount the first street protests in months. Authorities have warned they will confront any unauthorized gatherings.

Opposition activists took to the streets after last year's vote, claiming President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won re-election through fraud. Over the weeks, activists broadened their protests to challenge Iran's clerical establishment and were met with a heavy crackdown. More than 100 people were brought before a mass trial and 80 of them were sentenced to death or given prison terms ranging from six months to 15 years.

On Wednesday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, acting on a request by the judiciary, granted the pardons. A statement on his website did not identify the prisoners. It said the pardons were made on the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad's daughter.

The judiciary's letter to Khamenei requesting the pardons said the prisoners were "deceived in the postelection turmoil."

Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who ran against Ahmadinejad last year, has asked authorities for permission of a hold a rally on the June 12 election anniversary.

Iran detained thousands after the last year's election. Many of them were released immediately, but the opposition and human rights groups say hundreds of detainees are still in prisons without any convictions against them.

More than 80 people were killed during the government crackdowns on street protests.