Four Christian converts belonging to the Church of Iran denomination have been released on bail after spending a week in Lakan Prison in the northern city of Rasht.
Kathrin Sajadpour, Moslem Rahimi and one other Christian were released on a reduced bail of 200 million tomans (approximately USD $11,500) on 20 May. Bail had initially been set at 500 million tomans (approximately USD $30,000), but the Christians were unable to meet this requirement. The fourth, Ramin Hassanpour, was released today, 21 May.
The four Christians were initially arrested in February, reportedly in relation to their membership of a house-church. On 14 May they were sent to Lakan Prison after failing to meet bail requirements. The exact charges against them remain unclear.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “While we welcome the release on bail of these four Christian converts, CSW maintains they should never have been imprisoned in the first place. We call on the Iranian government to drop all charges against them, and to end the practice of targeting individuals such as these simply for adopting a faith the Iranian constitution purports to recognise.”
Several other Christians belonging to the Church of Iran in Rasht remain in prison, including Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who is currently serving a ten-year sentence along Mohammadreza Omidi, Yasser Mossayebzadeh, and Saheb Fadaie. Also detained is Pastor Matthias Haghnejad, who was sentenced to five years in prison in September 2019, along with Shahrouz Eslamdoust, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Behnam Akhlaghi, Mehdi Khatibi, Mohammad Vafadar, Kamal Naamanian, Hossein Kadivar (Elisha) and Khalil Dehghanpour.
Pastor Nadarkhani, Mr Omidi, Mr Mossayebzadeh, and Mr Fadaie are still awaiting an appeal verdict that was due on 11 May.
Mr Thomas added: “CSW condemns the continued imprisonment of Pastors Nadarkhani and Haghnejad, and of all those who are detained on account of their religion or belief in Iran. We urge the international community to maintain intense scrutiny on the situation of human rights in the country, and particularly of freedom of religion or belief, raising these issues at every opportunity, both bilaterally and multilaterally.”