29 Jul 2009

140 Iranian protesters released on bail

8:55 am on 29 July 2009

Iranian authorities freed 140 people detained in street protests over last month's disputed election and the supreme leader ordered a jail closed amid opposition claims of prisoner abuse.

Lawmaker Kazem Jalali said the detainees were released on bail from Evin prison after members of a parliamentary committee visited the prison on Tuesday, ISNA reported.

Mr Jalabi said 150 people who were involved in post-election protests and 50 others, including political activists, members of anti-revolution groups and some foreigners, remained in jail.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered the closure of the Kahrizak detention centre where detainees are believed to have been held the 12 June election.

Reformist websites have reported some detainees involved in protests following the election were being held at Kahrizak under "severe physical and mental pressure".

Rights groups say hundreds of people, including senior pro-reform politicians, journalists, activists and lawyers, have been detained since the election.

It was not clear whether detainees at Kahrizak had been released or transferred to another detention centre.

The presidential vote plunged Iran into its biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution and exposed deepening divisions in its ruling elite.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's most powerful figure, has endorsed the re-election of President Ahmadinejad. Defeated moderate candidates Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi say the vote was rigged in his favour.

Iranian media have reported several protesters' deaths following the vote.