Iran releases Christian convert imprisoned for membership in evangelistic group
Authorities in Iran have released a thirty-seven-year-old Iranian Christian convert four months early after he tested positive for COVID-19, according to a report.
Majidreza Souzanchi, who was arrested in 2017 for his association with a house church and being involved in evangelism, was released from Tehran Greater Prison on the 8th of April, about four months before he was to be released after he contracted COVID-19 in that prison, International Christian Response reported on Friday.
In April 2018, Judge Ahmed Mashallah of the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced the convert to five years in prison — the maximum possible sentence for the charges he faced, which were “membership of evangelistic groups and conducting evangelism.”
In December 2018, Judge Hassan Babaei of the Tehran Regional Court of Appeals reduced Souzanchi’s sentencing to two years. However, he was also accused of theft — a charge he denies — and sentenced to two additional years.
After serving the sentence related to Christianity, Souzanchi was transferred from Evin Prison to Tehran Greater Prison to serve the sentence for theft. He was arrested and sentenced alongside teenage woman, Fatemeh Mohammadi, who was sentenced to six months in prison for “membership of an evangelical group.” She was released after sentencing as she had served her time in the women’s ward of Evin Prison.
Christians in Iran witnessed an unprecedented wave of raids on “house churches” toward the end of 2018 in which more than one hundred Christians were arrested, according to Article 18. Most of them were released after a few hours after they wrote down details of their activities and were ordered to have no more contact with other Christians.