Iranian Christians are delighted to report that Sevada Aghasar, an ethnic Armenian, has been conditionally released from prison.
Following an unsuccessful appeal, Sevada Aghasar was summoned to serve a five-year prison sentence in 2017, more than two years after he had originally been sentenced.
Sevada had been arrested with two Christian converts, Masoud Mirzaei and Ebrahim Firouzi in August 2013. Masoud was later released, but Sevada and Ebrahim were charged in March 2015 with “action against national security through collusion and gathering” and in April 2015, they were each sentenced to five years in prison.
Sevada was taken to Evin Prison, Tehran, on 4 July 2017 to serve his prison sentence. At various times, he has been allowed temporary release, including last Easter, when he was able to participate in his church choir as part of the Easter celebrations for the Armenian Church.
Sevada was permitted early release from Evin Prison on 21 July after serving half of the prison sentence, but with provisos (probably restricting evangelical activity).
Ebrahim Firouzi was initially arrested in August 2013 and convicted of several charges, including “propaganda against the Islamic regime”, evangelism, “contact with anti-Islamic agents abroad” and founding a Christian website. He was sentenced to one year in prison and two years of exile to the remote town of Sarbaz. He was due for release in January 2015, but Iranian authorities kept him in prison and brought new charges against him, resulting in the additional five-year prison sentence. Ebrahim is still serving this sentence in Rajaei Shahr Prison, Karaj, and is due for release in 2020.
Iranian Christians welcome Sevada’s release and request prayer that:
a. Sevada will be able to recover quickly from his prison experience and return to “normal life”
b. The Lord will encourage Ebrahim Firouzi and that he will be permitted early release
c. Iranian authorities will stop persecuting ethnic Christians, like Sevada Aghasar, and Christian converts, like Ebrahim Firouzi, and allow religious freedom without restrictions on evangelical activity