An Iranian Christian convert has been released on bail after being held for three weeks on charges relating to blasphemy and national security. Ebrahim Firouzi had been serving a sentence of 'internal exile’ in the remote town of Sarbaz after being released from prison back in October 2019.
He was first arrested back in March 2013 and sentenced to a year in prison on charges of “spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran". After serving his time at the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, Firouzi was then sentenced to a further five years in prison on charges related to national security.
His most recent detention was in relation to allegedly "insulting the sacred (blasphemy” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic in favour of hostile groups". He was accused of releasing videos detailing the harassment he was experiencing from the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). Firouzi was released after a $1,650 bail was posted on his behalf. He reportedly went on hunger strike while in prison, which led the authorities to assure him of his release.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW welcome the release of Ebrahim Firouzi on bail; however, the harassment he continues to experience at the hands of the authorities while already in internal exile is deeply concerning. We call for the charges against Mr Firouzi to be dropped immediately and without condition, and for the Iranian authorities to overturn the sentence of internal exile he is currently serving.
"We also urge Iran to ensure the right to freedom of religion or belief is fully upheld for all citizens, and to cease the practice of targeting members of religious minority communities with spurious charges and other forms of harassment.”