Iran has temporarily freed about 85,000 prisoners in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus, a judiciary spokesman in the country has said.

Gholamhossein Esmaili said: “Some 50% of those released are security-related prisoners… also in the jails we have taken precautionary measures to confront the outbreak.”

Political prisoners are also among the inmates who have been released in the move.

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran said on 10 March he asked Tehran to temporarily free all political prisoners from its overcrowded and disease-ridden jails.

The request was aimed at helping to stem the spread of coronavirus in the Middle Eastern country.

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