IRAN: Wife of imprisoned church leader released on bail
CSW (03.02.2023) – https://bit.ly/3I9qUlz – The wife of a leader from the Church of Iran denomination was released on bail on 28 January after spending over three weeks in Lakan prison in Rasht, the provincial capital of Gilan Province.
According to Middle East Concern, Anahita Khademi was released on a bail of 180 million tomans (approximately USD $4,000), but faces charges of ‘propaganda against the system’ and ‘disturbing public opinion’.
Ms Khademi was arrested on 3 January 2023, days after her husband, Pastor Matthias (Abdulreza Ali) Haghnejad, was arrested along with two other Christians in Anzali city in Gilan Province on 26 December 2022.
Pastor Haghnejad remains in prison on charges of ‘acting against the security of the country by forming a group and propagating Christianity outside the church and in the house church, and giving information to the enemies of Islam’. The pastor had been acquitted of these same charges in 2014, yet they were reinstated in January 2022, shortly after he was acquitted of ‘endangering state security’ and ‘promoting Zionist Christianity,’ for which he spent nearly three years in prison from February 2019 to December 2021. The reinstated charges carry a six-year sentence.
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: ‘While CSW welcomes the release on bail of Anahita Khademi, we maintain that the charges against her are completely unfounded and should be dismissed immediately and without pre-condition. The same is true of her husband, Matthias Haghnejad, who faces charges which were dismissed on appeal in 2014, in a clear violation of article 14:7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a signatory. We continue to call for the pastor’s immediate and unconditional release, as well as that of all others currently imprisoned in relation to their religion or belief. We also urge Iran to end its effective criminalisation of Christianity, and to respect, protect and fulfil the right to freedom of religion or belief for every citizen regardless of their religious affiliation and belief.’