Iranian Christian forced into exile

Christians are heavily persecuted in Iran for their faith (Photo: Unsplash/OmidArmin)

A Christian man has been sentenced to two years in internal exile in Iran.

Mohammadreza Omidi (Yuhan) has been told he must serve the sentence in Borazjan, in the south of the country, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports.

It follows his release from prison on 18 August after spending two years behind bars on national security-related charges.

He was arrested in 2016 alongside Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, Deacon Saheb Fadaie and Yasser Mossayebzadeh during raids on Christian homes in the city of Rasht.

All four were sentenced to 10 years in prison but this was reduced on appeal in June 2020.

Pastor Nadarkhani has also been sentenced to an additional two years in internal exile.

He and Deacon Fadaie remain in prison but Mossayebzadeh is one of the many prisoners in Iran to have been temporarily released in efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19 in prisons, CSW said.

CSW's Founder President Mervyn Thomas said he was "saddened" by the exile of Mr Omidi.

He welcomed the temporary furlough of Mr Mossayebzadeh from prison but called on the Iranian government to release him and the other three men "immediately and without condition, ensuring that they can enjoy their freedom without experiencing further harassment".

"We also call on Iran to ensure the release of every prisoner of conscience, to end its criminalisation of Christian practices, and to facilitate the full enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief by every religious community, in line with the constitution and international legislation to which the nation is party," he said.