Karaj Christians released on bail

Karaj Christians released on bail

Esmaeil Falahati, with his wife

Eight Christians arrested at a house-church in Karaj in August have been released on bail.

Esmaeil Falahati, Hayedeh Shadnia, Shahin Bashiri, Mona Chahardoli, Nematullah Yousefi, Ziba Jalilvand, Hossein Rastegari and a man named Razmik were arrested by plainclothes intelligence agents on Friday 7 August.

Esmaeil and Hossein were released on bail on 9 September, after spending 33 days in solitary confinement, accompanied by “mental torture”, according to Mohabat News.

They were charged with “propaganda against the regime” and “gathering with intent to disrupt public security”.

Hayedeh has also been released on bail, while three of the other Christians were released shortly after their arrests after signing disclaimers.

Esmaeil, 35, who has now fled the country, spoke to Mohabat News about his experiences.

“It was 7 August and we had gathered in Hossein’s garden, near Kan, with a few brothers and sisters when security authorities entered the garden and arrested us,” he explained.

“The authorities threatened the owner of the garden and put him on the ground with a gun to his throat, in front of his child. What was surprising to us was that they had a warrant pre-signed and stamped, and they wrote our names on it on the spot.

“They searched the whole garden, despite it being very dark. It seemed they were looking for something specific.

“They took me to my house at around 10pm to search there as well. I had some Bibles and Christian books at home. They took away all the books, as well as my computer and some other personal belongings.”

Esmaeil said he had posted bail of 700 million rials (around $25,000) and that his interrogators told him to leave the country after his release, “otherwise they would harm me and my family in an irreversible way”.