Iranian Christians are rejoicing that Naser Navard Goltapeh was released from Evin Prison on 17 October after being pardoned by the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamanei.
The Iranian pastor was arrested along with three Azerbaijani Christians in June 2016. In June 2017, they were each sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for “acting against national security through forming and establishing illegal house churches.” The Azerbaijanis had left Iran during the process, forfeiting bail.
Naser was taken to Evin prison in January 2018 after his conviction and sentence were upheld by the appeal court.
Naser repeatedly requested leave and early release which was consistently denied. His release now as part of the pardon of several people, came as a surprise.
There has been concern for the Christians detained in Evin during the recent fire and reported shots and explosions (state media reports eight prisoners were killed). It has been a relief that most Christians have been able to contact family and assure them that they are okay
- Thanking God for Naser’s unexpected release
- That he would be able to quickly adjust to life outside prison
- That Christians and other prisoners still detained unjustly on spurious political charges will also be set free