World Watch Monitor reports that Iranian evangelical pastor Farshid Fathi 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.
He was serving a six-year prison sentence – extended to seven years – for “action against the regime’s security, being in contact with foreign organisations, and religious propaganda”. Due to be released in December 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 December.
He was originally arrested on 26 December 2010 at the same time as around 60 other Christians, many belonging to house churches in Tehran and other cities. Most of those have now been released.
The governor of Tehran, Morteza Tamadon, on 4 January, 2011 described the detained Christians as “extremists” who “penetrate the body of Islam like corrupt and deviant people”. He added that they were trying to establish “an extreme form of Christianity like the Taliban and Wahhabis in Islam”.
Fathi, who is a 35-year-old father of two, was imprisoned without trial in Evin prison. After 15 months of uncertainty, he was tried in January 2012. Details of his court trial have not been published.