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Charges dropped against Church of Iran clergy

by Desmond Busteed

Pastors Behnam Irani, Matthias Haghnejad and Deacon Silas Rabbani were cleared of action against the state after an appeal.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Pastors Behnam Irani, Matthias Haghnejad and Deacon Silas Rabbani were informed on Monday that charges against them had been dropped.

Pastor Haghnejad and Deacon Rabbani were subsequently released; however, Pastor Irani remains in Ghezal Hesar Prison in Karaj, where he is serving a one year sentence for action against the state and a five-year sentence for "action against national security".
The three clergymen were initially charged with Mofsed-e-filarz, or spreading corruption on earth, while the two pastors faced the charge of Moharebeh, enmity against God, both of which are capital offences.

However, these charges were later dropped and they were tried for "action against national security" and "creating a network to overthrow the system", and each sentenced to six-year imprisonment.

CSW's Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas, said:"We are extremely pleased to learn of the release of Pastor Matthias Haghnejad, Deacon Silas Rabbani, Hossein Baraunzadeh and Rahman Bahman.

While we welcome this news, we remain concerned at the continued detention of Amin Khaki and long-term prisoners like Behnam Irani and Farshi Fathi - all of whom who have been unjustly detained. Despite President Rouhani's promise to uphold the rights of religious minorities, the repression against religious and ethnic minorities in Iran continues".

We continue to call on the Iranian government to uphold the rule of law and allow the country's religious minorities to enjoy freedom of religion or belief as guaranteed under Iran's own constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is party."

Dr Khataza Gondwe, Christian Solidarity Worldwide:

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