Christian converts conclude prison sentences, but one now faces exile

Christian converts conclude prison sentences, but one now faces exile

Habib Heydari (left) and Sasan Khosravi.

Two Christian converts have been released from prison at the conclusion of their one-year prison sentences for belonging to a house-church, but one of them now faces two years’ exile.

Sasan Khosravi, who is 36 years old, and Habib Heydari, who turned 40 just last week, were released from Bushehr Central Prison this morning.

They had begun their sentences in February last year, but were sent on leave from prison in March, which was extended on numerous occasions until they were finally summoned back to prison in November to serve the remainder of their sentences behind bars.

Now, while there is joy at the two Christians’ release, Sasan faces imminent internal exile, during which time he will not be permitted to seek employment within his specialist profession: the hospitality sector.

It is not yet known where Sasan, who is a hotel manager, will be sent for his term of exile, but it is expected to be far away from his home in Bushehr.

The two other Iranian Christians who have endured internal exile in recent years, Ebrahim Firouzi and Youhan Omidi, were both sent more than 1,000km from their homes.

Sasan is expected to journey into the uncertainty of life in exile with his wife Marjan and their two children – a four-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter – as well as Sasan’s mother Khatoon, who is in her sixties and was among the group of eight Christians arrested back in July 2019.

Following their arrests, seven of the Christians – all except Sasan’s mother – were charged with “acting against national security”, “gathering and collusion against the state”, and “membership of an illegal organisation” (house-church), and in June 2020 they received sentences ranging from prison and exile to work restrictions and fines.

Sasan and brother Sam were each sentenced to one year in prison, followed by two years’ exile. Habib also received a one-year prison sentence, but no exile or work restrictions, while a fourth man, Pooriya Peyma, received a 91-day sentence, which he served last year.

Meanwhile, Sam, Sasan and Pooriya’s wives – Maryam, Marjan, and Fatemeh – were fined, while Maryam was banned for life from working for any national institution, including the hospital at which she had worked for 20 years.

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