An Iranian Christian, was temporarily released from jail on July 9 after almost four months in solitary confinement, following the payment of a bail amount equivalent to £62,000.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported in a news release that according to the Iranian Mohabat News agency, Masoud Delijani, from Kermanshah in western Iran, was reportedly charged with crimes related to his Christian faith. They included hosting house-church meetings. Delijani is reported to be in poor physical health. A date for his court case has not been set.
CSW said Delijani was arrested by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry on March 17 2011, along with nine other house-church members who were gathered in a private home. During the raid, the security forces also confiscated a Christian painting, Bibles, DVDs and personal IDs. The group was taken to an unknown location, where members were subjected to harsh interrogation.
Seven members of the group were released the following day. CSW said that was after they had been photographed and finger-printed, and had signed a statement stating they would refrain from attending any Christian gatherings in the future.
Delijani, his wife Nahid Shirazi, and Meghdad Babakarami, all remained in custody. However, in mid-April, Shirazi and Babakarami were released after large bail payments of around £12,500 and £25,000 respectively were made on their behalf.
CSW said there is an increasing tendency on the part of Iranian judiciary to demand large amounts of bail for the temporary release of Christian detainees. Such payments place great strain on their families, friends and churches.
CSW commented that in addition to the mass arrests of house-church members, which have intensified over the past year, leading to greater fear and insecurity in the Christian community, this tactic appears to be designed to curb the economic capability of the Iranian Christian community.
CSW said most Christians who have been released on bail and are awaiting trial have had to make payments of between £10,000 and £40,000 prior to their release. However, others continue to be held without formal charges despite raising the required funds.
CSW said Elam Ministries reports that the equivalent of £120,000 was demanded as bail for Farshid Fathi, a Christian from Tehran who was arrested in Dec. 2010 and held in Evin Prison. In March 2011 his family raised the bail money, but the authorities refused to release him. Fathi remains in prison, but has still not been formally charged.
CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said in a news release, “We welcome the news that Mr. Delijani is now reunited with his family. He and his family remain in our prayers as he recovers from the physical, psychological and emotional deprivations he suffered while in prison.”
Johnston continued, “CSW deplores the exorbitant payments being demanded for the temporary release of detainees who have committed no crime, but are being held solely on account of their faith, and calls on the authorities to cease this practice. Many families have been forced to hand over the title deeds of their home to meet bail, leaving them in a vulnerable financial position.”
CSW is a Christian organization working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.
For further information, visit www.csw.org.uk.