The justice agency’s Mizan news agency released new numbers, saying that inmates had been unable to bear their injuries from Sunday’s incident.
It says all the dead have been detained for theft. Mizan described the incident as a “war between prisoners and a fire”, although it offered no evidence to support the claim. Activists outside Iran say they remain skeptical of the Iranian government’s claims, especially given their recent descriptions of nationwide protests that differ significantly from those described described in the field.
Flames and thick smoke billowing from Tehran’s Evin prison were widely seen on Saturday night. In the online videos, gunfire and explosions can be heard in the prison area.
State media said the fire was extinguished after several hours and no one escaped.
Authorities tried to distance events at the prison from ongoing protests, while state media provided conflicting accounts of the violence. Hundreds of people are being held at Evin, where human rights groups have repeatedly reported abuse of prisoners.
Protests erupted after public outrage over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. She was arrested by the Iranian ethics police in Tehran for violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. The Iranian government insists Amini was not mistreated in police custody, but her family said her body had bruises and other signs of beatings after she was detained.
President Joe Biden, on a weekend trip to Oregon, said the Iranian government was “very oppressive” and that he had “great respect for those marching in the streets”.
Evin prison, which houses detainees who face security-related charges and includes two citizens, has been accused by human rights groups of abusing prisoners. The facility has long been known for holding political prisoners as well as those with Western ties, who have been used by Iran as a bargaining chip in international negotiations.