An Iranian-Armenian Christian serving a five-year jail sentence for “acting against national security through house-church activities” was permitted temporary leave over Easter, Article18 can reveal.
Sevada Aghasar, who began his jail term in July 2017, sang with his church choir on Easter Sunday, as was his custom before his imprisonment, and also celebrated his 30th birthday while on leave.
He is due to return to Tehran’s Evin Prison on Thursday, 25 April.
A photograph of Sevada singing with his choir at St. Gregory’s Church in Tehran was among those published on the state news agency IRNA.
This is the second time Sevada has been granted temporary leave from prison; he was also granted one week’s leave in May 2018.
Sevada was first arrested in August 2013 alongside two Christian friends, Ebrahim Firouzi, with whom he was later sentenced, and Masoud Mirzaei, who was also arrested but later released.
Sevada spent more than six months in Ward 350 of Evin Prison before his release on bail in March 2014.
In April 2015, Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court of Karaj sentenced him to five years in prison. His appeal was unsuccessful and he began serving his sentence on 4 July 2017.
Ebrahim, a convert to Christianity, remains in Karaj’s Rajaee Shahr Prison. Late last year his mother, who had been battling ill health for some years, passed away without the opportunity to see her son one last time.
In July 2016, Kobra Kamrani, who was 56 when she died, had pleaded with the authorities to release her son to help take care of her, as she had lost her eyesight and also had cancer.
But her request was rejected and in December 2018 she died and was buried without her son being able to see her or attend her funeral.