Iran's spy chief said the 1998 killings of dissident writers by rogue intelligent agents were a "slight mistake" and insisted that Iranians need not fear security services.
Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi also told newspapers that Iranians had forgiven the killings.
The killings, which forced Yunesi's predecessor to resign, began Nov. 22, 1998, when Dariush Forouhar and his wife, who ran a small opposition party, were stabbed to death. In the following weeks, two dissident writers were kidnapped and apparently strangled.
The killings were seen as part of a struggle between ministry hard-liners and reformists allied to President Mohammad Khatami.