Tehran frees seven political prisoners, including Christian convert

The sudden decision, without a public announcement and clarifications. 34-year-old Ebrahim Firoozi, convicted of forming a Christian group to "disturb national security” is free. Four journalists and two workers' rights activists were released under "astronomical" bail.


Tehran (AsiaNews) - Iranian authorities have released seven political prisoners, including a convert to Christianity arrested on faith grounds, on bail and without giving any explanation.

The release took place on October 26 last year, but the news was only relaunched by the activists of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (Chri), according to which there are also four journalists and two activists among those who left prison.

Local sources report that the releases took place suddenly, without a public announcement as is traditional in these cases and it is not even known which authority authorized a long awaited release. The release was also conditioned on the payment of a sum described as  "astronomical" for a common citizen.

The reasons why other people, who ended up in prison for the same reason, did not benefit from the provision and remain behind bars are unknown.

Among those released on bail is the 34-year-old Christian convert Ebrahim Firoozi, released from Rajee Shahr prison, which is located in the western suburbs of Tehran. He was sentenced in 2014 to five years for "creating a [Christian] group, with the intention of disturbing national security". Originally from Robat Karim, a town just over 20 km south-west of the capital, he was to serve two additional years in exile in the village of Sarbaz, in a remote area of ​​the province of Sistan and Baluchistan.

The other six were released on payment of a large deposit. Among these is the 25-year-old activist and trade unionist Sepideh Qoliyan, released from the prison of Gharchak Prison in Varamin for a bail to the tune of around 335 thousand dollars. In the past the young woman had reported violence and abuse suffered by her and her cell mates by emissaries of the Ministry of Intelligence. Her conviction, imposed last September, was over 18 years.

Qoliyan Has regained his freedom after stopping a four-day hunger strike to protest Intelligence attacks on his family. The other trade unionist, Esmail Bakhshi, who is also the victim of torture and abuse in his cell, remains in prison without explanation.

The feminist and trade unionist Atefeh Rangriz, 31, was able to leave Evin prison in Tehran. A graduate in sociology, the woman was sentenced to 11.5 years in prison and 74 lashes with the accusation of "assembly and collusion against national security" as well as "disturbing public order".

The journalist Marzieh Amiri, from the reformist newspaper Shargh, was also released on payment of over 237,000 dollars. The reporter was arrested on May 1st at the protest demonstrations to coincide with the international labor holiday. She also should have served 11.5 years and 74 lashes. However, like others, the woman must face the appeal process and in case of conviction she will still have to go back to prison for at least six years.

Two other journalists, Amirhossein Mohammadifard and colleague Sanaz Allahyari, arrested for the news on the protests repressed with violence at the beginning of the year, left the prison paying a sum of just over 200 thousand dollars. However, other colleagues arrested with them remain in prison to this day.

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