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Ebrahim Firouzi released on bail, but charges not dropped

Ebrahim Firouzi released on bail, but charges not dropped

Iranian Christian convert Ebrahim Firouzi has been released on bail after nearly three weeks in detention.

The 34-year-old, who has already spent years in prison and is now living in exile, was detained on 8 February on new charges of “insulting the sacred” (blasphemy) and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic in favour of hostile groups”.

Five days later he began an indefinite hunger strike to protest against the new charges, which he only ended after receiving assurances his case would be dealt with and also that he would be released.

But despite these assurances, Ebrahim remained in prison until Saturday, 27 February, when bail of 50 million tomans (around $1,650) was posted for him.

Since Ebrahim’s latest arrest, messages of support have flooded in from around the world, and the Council of United Iranian Churches (Hamgaam) has led calls for his release and for the authorities to “stop persecuting him”.

“The Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic has not stopped harassing and persecuting Mr Firouzi, even in exile,” said Hamgaam in its statement on 22 February. “And by making new charges and confiscating his property, it has made life more inhumane and difficult for him in his exile in Rask.”

Background

Ebrahim has been living in exile 1,000 miles from his home, as a form of continued punishment following his release from years in prison in November 2019 – all for his peaceful Christian activities.

And in exile he is set to remain until October 2022, having had his two-year sentence extended by 11 months last year for an “unauthorised” leave of absence.

The latest charges against him were brought after six videos of Ebrahim were published online, in which he complained against the continued rights violations against him, including the confiscation of his property and harassment of his brother, who is not a Christian.

Ebrahim said in the videos that he was “not afraid of being sent back to prison for telling the truth” or fighting for justice.

But he added: “My prayer is that the authorities pursue true justice. The Iranian Church has never sought war with the government. We are believers in Jesus Christ the Lord and, according to the message of the Bible, we want to live a quiet and lawful life.”