Iranian-Armenian Christian Sevada Aghasar has been granted “conditional release” from prison after serving half of his five-year sentence for “acting against national security through house-church activities”.
Sevada was released from Tehran’s Evin Prison yesterday lunchtime and will not have to return providing he upholds the conditions of his release, which will likely mean a prohibition from evangelism.
Today, on his Instagram page, Sevada wrote:
When I was child, I thought that only criminals and malefactors would be prisoned.
Then I got younger and knew that debtors and mistakers would be prisoned too.
Now I know that even innocents could be prisoned!! Thank God, I’m free now 😊❤️
The 30-year-old was sentenced to five years in prison in April 2015 at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court of Karaj, a city near Tehran.
After failing with his appeal, he began serving his sentence on 4 July 2017. He had also spent six months in detention following his initial arrest, which counted towards his time served.
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.
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.
Sevada was granted temporary release from prison twice during his time in prison, the second of which came at Easter 2019, when he 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 was also granted one week’s leave in May 2018.