Iran’s Chief Justice said that there were no political prisoners in Iran during a meeting with senior judicial officials.
He said this while announcing that 50,000 prisoners would receive “amnesty” for the 40th anniversary of the Iranian regime.
According to Judicial officials there were more than 200,000 prisoners in Iran’s prisons in 2016 and 2017 which is three times more than the prisons’ capacities.
The Chief Justice criticized requests that political prisoners be included in the “amnesty” and claimed that Iran “currently did not have such criminals”.
“Some people talk about releasing political prisoners or dissidents to marginalize this great measure. We do not have any criminals categorized as political prisoners. If someone acted against national security, this is an independent criminal offense that has to be addressed. Political crimes have been defined in the law and seeing to these crimes has its own legal procedures,” Sadegh Larijani added in comments carried by the state-run ISNA news agency.
“Unfortunately some people who have positions in executive bodies have said that the amnesty incorporate critics (of the regime). It seems that they are indicating that there are people in prison only for criticizing (the regime). What a big lie this is. Is there anyone in prison today for criticizing (the state)? The judiciary has never prosecuted anyone only for criticism. These remarks stem from a lack of attention to the fact that libel and insults are different from criticism and lawmakers have also distinguished between the two. We say explicitly that criticism is not at all a crime in the Islamic Republic,” the cleric said.
This is while lists of thousands of Iranian political prisoners and prisoners of conscience have been published by human rights organizations.
In addition to political prisoners with various political leanings, Iran jails journalists and religious minorities including Baha’is, dervishes and converted Christians.
Iran’s Judiciary even summonses Iranian lawmakers for their remarks in public parliament sessions.
This is not the first time that Iranian officials deny the existence of political prisoners in Iran calling them “security” prisoners.
Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs recently said in an interview with an American journalist that “no one is imprisoned in Iran for their beliefs”.