January 18, 2014 / 9:34 PM / 4 years ago

Iran's supreme leader commutes almost 900 sentences

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves to the crowd in the holy city of Qom, 120 km (75 miles) south of Tehran, October 19, 2010 file photo.Khamenei.ir

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei agreed on Saturday to pardon or reduce the sentences of 878 people in honor of the Prophet Mohammad's birthday on Sunday, the state news agency IRNA reported.

Last September, some 80 political prisoners were released, including prominent human rights activist and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, just before a trip by President Hassan Rouhani to the U.N. General Assembly in New York. In October, another 1,241 prisoners were pardoned, according to the Nasim news agency.

IRNA did not say whether any of those pardoned on Saturday had been convicted of political offences. There did not appear to be any change in the status of Iran's two most prominent political prisoners - former presidential candidates Mirhossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi - who have been under house arrest for nearly three years.

Some Iranian officials have called for Moussavi and Karroubi to be freed, a move strongly opposed by hardliners, who have labeled the pair traitors for disputing the results of the 2009 presidential election.

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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