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Iran released four conservationists who had worked to save the endangered Asiatic cheetah before they were convicted on espionage charges and spent five years in prison, local media reported on Tuesday.

The Tehran newspaper Etemad said authorities released on Monday night Niloufar Bayani and Houman Jowkar, who were part of a group of five activists convicted in 2019 on espionage charges that were internationally criticized.

On Tuesday, several Iranian media outlets, including the semiofficial ILNA news agency, said two other conservationists were also released, Sepideh Kashani and Taher Ghadirian.

The four are among more than 2,000 prisoners granted amnesty on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, which celebrates the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The United Nations Environment Program on Monday welcomed the release of Bayani and Jowkar, who are members of the nonprofit Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. Iranian authorities released Sam Rajabi, another member of the group, in 2023.

The conservationists were arrested in 2018, along with Kavous Seyed-Emami, the 64-year-old founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. Seyed-Emami, an Iranian Canadian dual citizen, died while awaiting trial under disputed circumstances.

Bayani was sentenced to a 10-year prison term in 2019, while the others received six-to-eight-year terms on espionage charges. The case against members of the nonprofit Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation came as protests and unrest shook parts of Iran amid a government-imposed internet shutdown.