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New Iranian president wants 'empty prisons'

28 september 2013, 07:00
0
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. ©AFP
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. ©AFP
Iran's newly elected moderate president said Thursday he hoped for the freedom of more prisoners after the recent release of prominent reformists, AFP reports.

Speaking in New York on a United Nations trip aimed at mending ties with the West, Hassan Rouhani said Iran has taken "early steps" on letting political prisoners go.

"We don't like to have anyone or see anyone in prison. We would like to have empty prisons," he told a forum of the Asia Society and Council on Foreign Relations.

"In the past several weeks, good, positive measures were taken in this regard and we hope that will continue," he said.

Rouhani, who swept to power in June on a platform of moderation, declined to be more specific. Experts say that hardliners in Iran have historically exerted influence over the judiciary.

On the eve of Rouhani's visit, authorities freed around 15 reformists, journalists and lawyers, notably prominent rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Authorities have also announced pardons for 80 others rounded up in connection with anti-government protests claiming massive fraud in the 2009 re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Former reformist president Mohammad Khatami was quoted Thursday by the Etemad daily as urging the release of all political prisoners, notably opposition chiefs Mir Houssein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

US lawmakers and activists have pushed Iran to free two imprisoned US citizens, as well as leaders of the Bahai religion.

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