Iranian Christian informed that he will have to go into internal exile

Iranian Christian Mohammadreza Omidi (Yuhan) has been informed by his lawyer that he will have to serve two years in internal exile. Mr Omidi is expected to serve the sentence in Borazjan in the south of the country, but details regarding the condition of his internal exile remain unclear.

Mr Omidi was released from prison on 18 August.  He was originally arrested in 2016 during a series of raids on Christian homes in the city of Rasht, in which Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, Deacon Saheb Fadaie and Yasser Mossayebzadeh were also detained. All four men received 10-year sentences on national security-related charges, which were reduced on appeal in June 2020. 

Mr Omidi had completed his reduced 24-month sentence in July 2020, and was released on 18 August. However, both he and Pastor Nadarkhani, had also been sentenced to an additional two years in internal exile. 

In a related development, CSW has learned that Yasser Mossayebzadeh has been granted temporary furlough from Evin prison due to fears of the spread of COVID-19 in Iran’s over-crowded prisons. However, Pastor Nadarkhani and Deacon Fadaie, have not been granted furlough.

In a press release issued on 17 August, CSW had expressed concerns regarding the unchecked spread of COVID-19 in Iranian prisons and the plight of prisoners of conscience who remain detained, including Mr Omidi.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “We are saddened to learn that Mr Omidi may be separated from his family once again after having completed a 24-month unjust sentence.  Additionally, while we welcome the fact that Mr Mossayebzadeh has been granted furlough, we continue to call on the Iranian government to release him and his co-defendants 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.”