Mojtaba Hosseini free after three years in prison

Mojtaba Hosseini free after three years in prison

Mojtaba Hosseini

Christian prisoner of conscience Mojtaba Hosseini has been conditionally released after more than three years in Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz.

The Persian-speaking Christian was granted early release on Wednesday, 18 March, 2015.

Fellow convert Esmail (Homayoun) Shekoohi was meanwhile granted ten days’ leave. 

Previously, on 10 November 2014, Homayoun had been granted conditional release after two years and eight months in prison, but a few days later Judge Rashidi, head of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz, said the decision was “wrong” and he was returned to prison.

Homayoun and Mojtaba were two of four converts, alongside Mohammad Reza (Koroush) Partovi and Vahid Hakani, arrested in February 2012 during raids on two house-churches in Shiraz. In June 2013 they were each sentenced to three years and eight months in prison for “promoting Christianity”, “association with Christian organisations abroad”, “propaganda against the state”, and “disrupting national security”.

In recent years, many Persian-speaking Christians have been arrested and sentenced to jail.

Article18’s Advocacy Director, Mansour Borji, described the often-used national-security charges as “a cover and justification for suppressing the religious activities of these Christians”, adding: “To reduce international sensitivities, Iranian judicial officials have blamed these prisoners of conscience with security charges and restricted religious freedoms with irrational and ambiguous interpretations of the law.”

Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, in his latest report, expressed concern about violations of freedom of religion or belief, including the 92 known Christian prisoners.