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Iran frees activist, cuts her sentence

October 8, 2020

Prominent Iranian campaigner Narges Mohammadi has been released after spending years in prison on charges including spreading propaganda against the government. The reasons for her release were not immediately clear.

Narges Mohammadi in 200
Image: Behrouz Mehri/AFP

Iranian authorities unexpectedly freed human rights campaigner and death penalty opponent Narges Mohammadi, her husband confirmed on Thursday.

He also called for "freedom for all prisoners" in Iran on Twitter.

The 48-year-old activist had been repeatedly targeted by the Iranian judiciary. She received an 11-year sentence in 2012 but was soon released on medical grounds. In 2015, she was arrested again to face new charges. Eventually, she was sentenced to a total of 16 years for allegedly planning crimes threatening national security, spreading propaganda against the government and forming and managing an illegal group.

Iran upholds death sentences

Reasons for the release unclear

On Thursday, Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency quoted a judicial official as saying that Mohammadi had served eight and a half years out of her 10-year sentence. The judiciary commuted the rest of the term after receiving court permission, the official said. However, the state did not clarify the reason behind Mohammadi's release.

The activist was a close aide to exiled Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, and had won Andrei Sakharov Prize in 2018. In July this year, the UN called for Mohammadi to be freed following reports that the activist had been showing COVID-19 symptoms. In August, her husband said that she apparently recovered.

Earlier this week, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, warned that Iran's prisons were severely overcrowded amid the coronavirus pandemic. Iran has denied the claims.

dj/msh (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)