Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has learned that Mohammadreza Omidi (Youhan), a Church of Iran member who was arrested on 13 May in Rasht, Iran, has been released on bail.
Mr Omidi was arrested during a series of raids
targeting the homes of church members by Iranian intelligence (VEVAK) officers
who seized computers, mobile telephones and bibles. He was summoned to VEVAK
offices by telephone prior to a raid on his home.
Along with Church of Iran members Yasser
Mossayebzadeh and Saheb Fadaie, Mr Omidi was held in Lakan Prison near Rasht
pending payment of around US$ 33,000 in bail. Mr Mossayebzadeh and Mr Fadaie
were released on 28 and 29 May respectively.
Although Mr Omidi was the first to attempt to post bail, judges had
refused to accept his payment, stating that he had to remain in jail because
VEVAK were bringing additional charges against him.
Mr Omidi was eventually released on 7 June.
The authorities said nothing about the nature of the new charge, but told Mr
Omidi he would be “summoned again.” To
date none of the men have been given reasons for their arrests, neither have
they been informed of the charges they will be facing.
In other news, on 6 June, Maryam (Nasim)
Naghash Zargaran was allowed to return home from prison for medical treatment.
Ms Naghash Zargaran was jailed for four years in July 2013 for
"propagating against the regime" and "collusion intended to harm
national security”. On 30 May, she had been taken to
hospital four days into a hunger strike for greater access to medical
attention, but was returned to prison soon afterwards. According to the Iranian
religious freedom organisation Article 18, family members who were allowed to
see her briefly at that time had found her in a semi-conscious state.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said,
“The release of Mr Omidi and the medical furlough granted to Ms Naghash
Zargaran are a mixed blessing. In both cases, these events are merely temporary
improvements. Mr Omidi and his fellow church members have been released
following exorbitant bail payments and still face unknown charges, while Ms
Naghash Zargaran is likely to be returned to complete an unjust sentence once
her condition improves. Clearly, Christians in Iran continue to be harassed
judicially. We once again urge the international community to press Iran to
uphold and protect the right to freedom of religion or belief, as articulated
in its constitution and international treaties to which it is signatory. We
also urge the international community to hold Iran to account for ensuring that
all prisoners of conscience are able to access adequate medical care in a