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It was just one snippet on the sidelines of the Davos summit, but President Hassan Rouhani's comments to CNN last week are making news back home. Several Iranian news outlets have reported on Rouhani's statement that "nobody remains in jail forever," responding to a question about when several dissidents and political prisoners jailed in recent years could hope to be freed.
Many Rouhani supporters have been counting on the government freeing political prisoners after he was elected on a reformist ticket last year. Currently two of Iran's most prominent prisoners were the former presidential candidates Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi, arrested in 2009 after backing mass protests against the results of presidential elections that year. Rouhani said he "thought" and "hoped" domestic political conditions would in become "much better" in following months, the reformist daily Arman reported.
Iran's parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani also touted moderation in dealing with critics, addressing a meeting of intelligence ministry officials on January 25, Arman reported. Larijani said a "harsh response" to "opponents" might prove effective immediately, but would have "negative effects in the long term." Dissent he said, should be dealt with in a "reasonable and considered" manner.

-Ahmad Shayegan
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July 2-3

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