Mohammad Reza Omidi
Yousef Nadarkhani and three of his church members, Saheb (Zaman) Fadaee, Mohammad Ali (Yasser) Mosayebzadeh and Mohammad Reza Omidi, are serving 10-year prison sentences on charges of “acting against national security” and “promoting Zionist Christianity.” The men are all members of the Church of Iran.
Yousef, 45, had spent nearly three years in prison after being sentenced to death for apostasy in 2010. He was acquitted in September 2012.
The believers, along with Yousef’s wife, Fatemeh Pasandideh, were arrested on Friday, May 13, 2016. Yousef and Fatemeh were released on bail the same day, while Saheb, Mohammad Ali and Mohammad Reza were released on bail two weeks later.
The four men were sentenced in July 2017 and began their sentences a year later in July 2018, after violent arrests at their homes. Fatemeh was reportedly told she would be arrested if she left Gilan Province. Saheb, Mohammad Ali and Mohammad Reza were also sentenced to 80 lashes each for drinking wine during Communion.
Yousef became a Christian at age 19. His wife is also a Christian convert from Islam, and the couple have been fighting for more than 10 years for the rights of their two boys to be recognized as Christians. For the past several years, the boys have been denied certificates showing they completed their studies, because they refused to take Islamic classes.
Mohammad Reza Released; Future Unclear
Mohammad Reza Omidi, 47, was released from Tehran’s Evin Prison this week and traveled home to the northern city of Rasht to be reunited with his wife, Maryam, and teenage daughters, Sara and Sandra.
Initially it was thought that the additional two year sentence of internal exile had been negated, but before leaving prison, Mohammad was told to report back in 15 days to receive his paperwork and begin his exile. It is not clear whether he will actually have to do this, or whether his wife and daughters would be permitted to join him in exile.
Prison Sentence Reduced
On June 22, 2020, Mohammad Reza Omidi's prison sentence was reduced to two years and he is eligible for release in July.
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