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Vahid Hakkani freed after three years in prison

Vahid Hakkani freed after three years in prison

Vahid Hakkani

Christian convert Vahid Hakkani has been conditionally released from Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz after nearly three years’ detention.

He was released on Monday, 26 January, after providing a written commitment to the Ministry of Intelligence that he will refrain from participating in Christian activities. 

In Iran, first-time prisoners can be granted early release if they are have served over half of their term of imprisonment, though they can be called back to prison at any time should they be found to have breached the conditions of their release.

Vahid was arrested alongside three fellow converts, Mojtaba Hosseini, Homayoun Shokouhi and Mohammad-Reza Partoei, on 8 February 2012, at a “house church” in Shiraz. 

A Revolutionary Court sentenced the four men on 10 June 2013 to three years and eight months each in prison for “promoting Christianity”, “association with Christian organisations abroad”, “propaganda against the state”, and “disrupting national security”.

Previously, judicial authorities had repeatedly opposed the early release of the four converts.

In protest at this, and at poor prison conditions, including denial of medical care, Vahid undertook two hunger strikes.

His second hunger strike lasted for seven weeks, during which his health deteriorated greatly.

In recent years, many Muslim-born Iranians who have converted to Christianity have been arrested and jailed, then charged with actions against national security – a ruse to reduce international outcry at charges actually related to their religious beliefs and activities.

Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, in his latest report, expressed concern over violations of freedom of religion or belief and the current detention of at least 50 Iranian Christians.

Iranian officials have denounced his reports as “biased” and “impolite”, and denied him permission to visit the country to investigate.