Iran temporarily frees 85,000 prisoners amid coronavirus

A total of 14,991 people have been confirmed infected across Iran. (AFP)
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Updated 17 March 2020

Iran temporarily frees 85,000 prisoners amid coronavirus

  • Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus has reached 853
  • A total of 14,991 people have been confirmed infected across the country

DUBAI: Iran has temporarily freed about 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners, a spokesman for its judiciary said on Tuesday, in response to the coronavirus epidemic.
“Some 50% of those released are security-related prisoners ... Also in the jails we have taken precautionary measures to confront the outbreak,” said Gholamhossein Esmaili.
On March 10, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran said he had asked Tehran to free all political prisoners temporarily from its overcrowded and disease-ridden jails to help stem the spread of coronavirus.
Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus has reached 853 and a total of 14,991 people have been confirmed infected across the country, one of the worst national outbreaks outside China, where the new virus originated.
Esmaili did not elaborate on when those released would have to return to jail.
Javaid Rehman, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, said earlier in March that Iranian prisoners have been infected with coronavirus.

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Israel launches new spy satellite

Updated 56 min 53 sec ago

Israel launches new spy satellite

JERUSALEM: Israel launched a new reconnaissance satellite early Monday, the defense ministry said, its latest asset to be deployed against arch-enemy Iran.
“The Israel Ministry of Defense and Israel Aerospace Industries have successfully launched the ‘Ofek 16’ reconnaissance satellite” at 4:00 am local time (0100 GMT), the ministry said in a statement.
The “electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities... will undergo a series of tests,” it added.
Minister of Defense and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz hailed the development.
“The successful launch of the ‘Ofek 16’ satellite overnight is yet another extraordinary achievement” for Israel’s defense sector, he said.
“Technological superiority and intelligence capabilities are essential to the security of the State of Israel... We will continue to strengthen and maintain Israel’s capabilities on every front, in every place.”
Neither statement gave further details on the satellite’s mission, but Israeli public radio said it would be used to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities.
Israel has long sworn to prevent its nemesis from obtaining atomic weapons.
The Islamic republic denies its nuclear program has any military dimension.