Iran’s judiciary spokesman claims about 98 percent of those arrested in Tehran province during the nationwide protests have been released, without mentioning a total number.

Masoud Setayeshi said Wednesday that a total of 5,200 people arrested in the capital Tehran have been freed.

Setayeshi had previously announced 1,200 detained demonstrators across the country had been released, alleging that “a population of about 4,000 people are now freed from prisons throughout the country.”

However, he did not provide any details about the current legal status of the 5,200 people and refused to say how many of them been released on bail or awaiting trial.

The judiciary spokesperson noted that the number of detainees released in Tehran province is "98.5% and it seems to be the same across the country".

It is not clear what the reason for this ambiguity is, but if the percentage is true, the total number of detainees based on the claim of the Judiciary spokesperson is less than 5,500 people, which is so different from the numbers provided by human rights organizations.

Some human rights sources say between 19,000 and 20,000 people have been detained during the suppression of the protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody four months ago.

Iranian protesters

However, all those who are released have emphasized their release is "temporary" and on bail.

According to a part of the Fars news agency's confidential bulletins that were leaked last month, "29,400 people" had been arrested during the recent protests in Iran.

Setayeshi also talked about the execution of the British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari, but without mentioning the details of the case, he called the UK’s strong reaction a sign of "the malevolence of the British government."

Alireza Akbari was one of Iran's senior military and defense officials in early 2000s. He travelled to Britain with his family and became a citizen of the UK, but the Iranian regime claims granting him the citizenship was a "reward" for "espionage".

Akbari was arrested in 2019 while travelling from the United Kingdom to Iran and sentenced to death for spying for Britain.

On January 14, the Iranian Judiciary announced Akbari had been hanged after having been convicted of espionage.

Setayeshi said that his execution was a sign of Iranian Judiciary’s “strength and sensitivity,” adding, “

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned Akbari's execution, saying “this was a callous and cowardly act, carried out by a barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, Setayeshi once again accused detained Belgian national Olivier Vandecasteele of “espionage” stressing that there will be no "concessions" in his case.

Vandecasteele, who was detained in 2022, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison in a secret trial without a fair chance to defend himself.

He worked in Iran for humanitarian organizations for more than six years and left the country. Later, he was lured back by “a girlfriend” and was detained in February 2022.

Belgium and Vandecasteele’s family believe he is innocent and a victim of hostage taking by the Iranian regime. They say Tehran intends to force Brussels to release Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Belgium in 2021.


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