At the threshold of Iranian New Year, Iranian authorities granted temporary leaves to a number of political prisoners to spend Norooz with their families.

Human Rights websites reports that 16 detained political activists, lawyers and journalists, including Mohsen Aminzadeh, Mohammad Oliayifard and Feizollah Arabsorkhi were released today.

Kaleme opposition website reports that more prisoners may be released later on tonight.

Kaleme adds that the number of political prisoners released this year is much lower than last year and indicates that the reason for this decrease is the recent protests that took place starting with the February 14 rally.

In the last month and half, Iranian have staged several demonstrations primarily to express solidarity with the recent Arab uprisings and later to demand the release of the opposition leaders, MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi who have been put under strict house arrest along with their wives since they called for the February 14 rally.

Protesters have gradually begun to express more and more anti-establishment sentiments rather than the earlier reformists slogans and chants against the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei are now as common as those against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iranians celebrate New Year, on the first day of spring and the holidays go on for 13 days.

Iranian judiciary has announced that they will only grant leaves to a limited number of prisoners who are certain not to carry on political activities during their leave.