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More than 54,000 prisoners released to stop coronavirus spreading in Iran

More than 54,000 prisoners have been released to combat the spread of coronavirus in crowded jails across Iran. 

The country has the highest death toll outside of China and 92 people have perished and 2,922 have been infected. 

The virus has sickened top leaders inside Iran’s civilian government and Shiite theocracy and a confidant of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is among the dead. 

Thousands of inmates who tested negative for Covid-19 were allowed to leave but they did have to post bail, the nation’s Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said.

a black and white photo of a train station: Released inmates were made to pay bail (Pixabay/ Tracy Lundgrn)

© Provided by Evening Standard Released inmates were made to pay bail (Pixabay/ Tracy Lundgrn)

Convicts who were classed as “security prisoners” and had a sentence of more than five years would remain behind bars, the BBC reported.

Iran’s judiciary chief, Ebrahim Raisi, said some people are stockpiling medical supplies for profit and urged prosecutors to show no mercy towards hoarder who are “playing with people’s lives”

“Hoarding sanitising items is playing with people’s lives, and it is not ignorable,” he said. 

Back in Britain Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, Tulip Siddiq announced that jailed British national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe may be soon released.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband said on Saturday that authorities were refusing to test her for the strain.

Taking to Twitter the MP said: “News from Iranian Ambassador that my constituent Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe may be released on furlough today or tomorrow from prison in Iran. If this is true, Nazanin would welcome leaving Evin jail, but we’ve been here before.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, holding her daughter Gabriella. (PA)

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, holding her daughter Gabriella. (PA)

“If this furlough happens, the British government have an obligation to make it permanent, and not let her be used as a bargaining chip in the weeks to come. I remain concerned that Nazanin has told her family that she has still not been tested for coronavirus.”

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was convicted of espionage charges – which she and the UK denies – and sent to Iranian prison for five years in 2016.

A Foreign Office spokesman told the BBC: “We call on the Iranian government to immediately allow health professionals into Evin prison to assess the situation of British-Iranian dual nationals there.”

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