Christian convert freed after nearly five years in Evin Prison

Christian convert freed after nearly five years in Evin Prison

Christian prisoner of conscience Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh has been freed after nearly five years in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.

Nasser was told earlier today that he had been “pardoned”. 

He called his family soon afterwards to tell them the surprising news and to ask them to collect him from the prison. 

He is now finally safely back at home, and hopes to see his elderly mother tomorrow. 

Nasser had been in Evin Prison since January 2018 and was serving a 10-year prison sentence for “acting against national security” by belonging to a house-church.

During his nearly 2,000 days in prison, Nasser filed several requests for a retrial or parole, as well as writing numerous open letters querying how membership of a house-church could be considered an “action against national security”.

But these petitions, and even an emotional plea last year from his elderly mother for her son’s release, all fell on deaf ears.

Until finally, today, 440 days after his mother’s video, Nasser was told he had been “pardoned”.

Nasser’s release comes just two days after chaotic scenes in the prison, as fire spread through Ward 7, claiming the lives of at least four prisoners. 

Gunfire was also heard, while projectiles leading to explosions were hurled into the prison from outside.

None of the dozen Christian prisoners of conscience were hurt, but one family member told Article18: “It was a hellish night for us. We were completely in the dark about what was happening. Then, when we were finally able to speak [to our loved one], we heard the sound of shooting and then the phone was disconnected. We wept until the morning.”

The male Christian prisoners – some of whom are of advanced years, including a 64-year-old with Parkinson’s disease – were also forced into desperate action to prevent the fire from spreading to their ward.

It is not clear whether there is any direct link between the fire and the release of Nasser, who is 61 years old and has experienced several health issues during his long imprisonment.

Article18’s director, Mansour Borji, welcomed the news, but added: “Nasser was arbitrarily arrested and detained, falsely charged, unjustly imprisoned for almost five years, and inhumanly refused a chance for retrial, furlough and medical attention.”