An Iranian pastor has been released, along with his wife, but three church members remain in the custody of Iranian authorities, according to ChristianToday.com.
Yousef Nadarkhani, a pastor in the Church of Iran, was arrested with his wife on May 13 during a raid on their home. This was the third time Nadarkhani was arrested for his faith.
In 2009, Iranian authorities arrested Yousef after he questioned the Muslim monopoly on education. He was charged with apostasy against Islam. He refused to recent his faith while on trial and was consequently sentenced to death.
However, after serving three years in prison, Yousef was released in September 2012. He was again detained in December 2012 and held until January 2013.
Three others were taken into custody by authorities in the most recent arrest on May 13. These three continue to be detained, although Yousef and his wife have been released.
"While CSW is relieved that Pastor and Mrs Nadarkhani have been freed, we remain deeply concerned for the welfare of Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammadreza Omidi, who are still being held," said Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s chief executive Mervyn Thomas.
Iran is one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a Christian. The country ranks ninth on Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries that are most hostile toward Christians.
Converting to Christianity in Iran is punishable by death for men and life imprisonment for women. Last year, 100 Christians were arrested or imprisoned in Iran, and many of them were subjected to abuse.
"We continue to call on Iran to fully respect its constitutional and international human rights obligations by ensuring that justice and equality before the law are guaranteed to all citizens, regardless of their religion or belief,” said Thomas.
Publication date: May 16, 2016