Christian Pastor Farshid Fathi has been released from an Iranian prison after spending almost five years in jail for his Christian faith.
World Watch Monitor announced this morning that the Iranian pastor was freed yesterday, despite having recently had his sentence extended:
An Iranian pastor has been released early from prison, just six months after he failed to appeal a sentence to an extra year in jail and 74 lashes for allegedly possessing two litres of alcohol in his prison cell.
Farshid Fathi was serving a six-year prison sentence – extended to seven years – for “action against the regime’s security, being in contact with foreign organizations, and religious propaganda”. Due to be released in Dec. 2017, he was then told by prison officials in early July that he would be released this year – at that time they said on 10 Dec.
Farshid Fathi was originally arrested on December 26th, 2010 with over 60 other Christians from house churches in Tehran. The father of two was held in the deadly Evin prison for over 15 months without a trial. He was finally tried in January 2012, but details of his trial were never released. To avoid international scrutiny, Iran cast his Christian activity as “actions against national security,” but it is very clear that Fathi was imprisoned solely for exercising his Christian faith.
Fathi’s release is a testament to the power of prayer and international pressure. After years of aggressive advocacy from many players on the international stage, Pastor Farshid Fathi will get to spend this Christmas with his family.
Fathi’s release also reminds us of the importance of our continued efforts to free the 91 other Christians who are imprisoned for their faith in Iran, including American Pastor Saeed Abedini – a U.S. citizen.
As we celebrate Christmas with our families this week, we must be thankful for Fathi’s release while remembering the dozens of other Christians who remain wrongfully imprisoned for their faith in Christ.
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