The organisation Middle East Concern says two Iranian Christians who were arrested for promoting Christianity in 2019 have been released from prison.
Sasan Khosravi and Habib Heydari were released on 20 January after being arrested with family members in south Iran. Seven of those arrested were convicted of ‘propaganda against the state through promoting Christianity’.
They received a variety of sentences with Sasan and Habib each sentenced to one year in prison. Sasan was also sentenced to two years' internal exile. They appealed, but on 27 January 2021 the appeal court upheld the sentences.
Habib and Sasan started serving their prison sentences at Bushehr Central Prison on 8 February 2021. In March they were allowed home on a temporary furlough, which was extended until they were ordered to return to prison on 11 November 2021.
Although they have now been released, Sasan will now be exiled to a city determined by the court.
Middle East Concern says that Iranian Christians are delighted they have been released, but are asking people to pray that :
• Sasan and Habib will enjoy their present freedom with their families
• Sasan’s place of exile will be a place of blessing for him and that he will be able to find accommodation and employment
• The Iranian authorities will stop the persecution of Christians and other religious communities.
Earlier this month Iranian authorities released nine Christians - a Protestant clergyman and eight members of his community - who had been given lengthy prison terms. Their cases are now under review.
International human rights groups say the latest developments are an encouraging signal to the cause of religious freedom in Iran.