Christian convert given leave from prison

Christian convert given leave from prison

Christian convert Hamed Ashouri has been released on leave from prison.

Article18 understands that the 31-year-old, who is serving a 10-month sentence for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”, may be permitted to spend the rest of his sentence at home, with an electronic tag.

At least two other Christian converts have been released with electronic tags so far this year, in what appears to be an increasing trend.

Hamed has so far spent just less than one month in Karaj’s Central Prison, having begun his sentence on 27 July.

He was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents as he left his home in Fardis on the morning of 23 February 2019.

The intelligence agents proceeded to raid his home and confiscate all Christian items, including Bibles and other literature, as well as computer hard drives. 

He was then taken to Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj, where he was held in solitary confinement for 10 days, before being transferred to Ghezel Hesar Prison, also in Karaj, for another two days.

During interrogations, Hamed was offered a large monthly salary if he “cooperated” by becoming an informant against other Christians.

When he refused, he was beaten. 

Hamed was finally released on bail after submitting guarantees in the form of payslips.

Hamed and another family member were then forced to attend “re-education” sessions with an Islamic cleric.

After four such sessions, Hamed refused to participate in any more, and it was then that the court proceedings against him began.

The case against him was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but Hamed was eventually sentenced in April 2021 following a court hearing a month earlier at the 4th Branch of the Revolutionary Court in Karaj.

He was summoned to begin his prison sentence after the failure of his appeal on 26 June.

Hamed was initially told to submit himself to prison within 10 days of his failed appeal, but he was later given a few weeks longer.