Iranian Christians are very pleased that Asghar Salehi has been given early release from prison. It is expected fellow prisoners Mohammadreza Rezaei and A.T. will also be released soon.
On 18 September 2018, Iranian intelligence agents raided the homes of Asghar, Mohammadreza and A.T., arresting them and three others. Asghar was interrogated for three days, being kept blindfolded for most of the time. He was then transferred to Eghlid prison for a further eight days. He was released on bail after submitting a business licence as a guarantee.
Asghar, Mohammadreza and A.T. were summoned to a court hearing at Branch 101 of Eghlid Criminal Court on 18 April 2019 and charged with propaganda against the Islamic Republic. The judge refused to allow Asghar to speak, warning him he was being monitored and that he would have to agree to stop all Christian activities.
On 16 September 2019 the three men were summoned again to the same court. On 22 September the three were each sentenced to six-months in prison for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran through promoting Zionist Christianity” in accordance with Article 500 of the penal code. The sentences were upheld on appeal.
On 12 December Asghar was arrested at work. All three Christians were detained in Eghlid Prison. They applied for a pardon and early release which has been granted after only two months of the six-month sentences. Asghar was freed on 2 February and the other two converts are due for release on 8 February. Asghar’s friend comments that such a pardon would be unlikely to be granted in the larger cities or for those Christians who, as is normally the case, are convicted on political or national security grounds.
Iranian Christians are thankful the three men have been granted early release and ask for prayer that:
- Mohammadreza and A.T. will be released on Saturday without any problems and that the families will rejoice at being reunited
- Their faith in the Lord Jesus will be strengthened through this experience
- Iranian authorities will stop their persecution of Christian converts and other religious communities