Iran. Nine Christians released from prison pending review of sentences
An Iranian church leader was among nine Christians released from prison over the past week, awaiting a review of their sentences.
Pastor Matthias (Abdulreza Ali) Haghnejad of the Church of Iran denomination was initially sentenced to five years in prison for “endangering state security” and “promoting Zionist Christianity” after a brief trial on September 23, 2019. Eight other Church members in Iran who were convicted alongside him were also sentenced to five years.
The pastor’s sentence was confirmed on February 25, 2020 without a hearing, after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei allegedly allowed the judge to bypass court proceedings. In November 2021, Tehran’s Supreme Court announced it would review the sentences handed down against Pastor Haghnejad and those convicted with him.
CSW sources report that Pastor Haghnejad, who was released from prison on December 30, 2021, is awaiting a new trial. According to Middle East Concern, the other eight Christians were released on January 1, pending a review of their sentences.
CSW Founding President Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW is pleased to hear that Pastor Matthias Haghnejad and the convicted Christians alongside him have been able to return home after spending nearly three years in prison. However, they still face unfounded and excessive charges simply for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief. They did not commit any crime, and we continue to call for their exoneration, and to urge the Iranian authorities to end the use of national security charges against members of the Christian community who exercise peacefully. their Faith. “
Keywords: Iran, CSW, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mervyn Thomas, Pastor Matthias Haghnejad
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