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Iran Lawyer Requests Early Release Pastor Pourmand

By BosNewsLife News Center

TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife) – The lawyer representing Iranian Christian prisoner Hamid Pourmand has petitioned for his early release from Tehran’s Evin Prison this month, during Iran’s annual prisoners’ amnesty.

Hundreds of Iranian prisoners are released each year between the February 11 anniversary of the 1989 Iranian revolution and Iranian Now Ruz or New Year celebrations on March 21.

“We don’t know how the authorities will respond to this appeal,” an unidentified Iranian Christian in contact with Pourmand’s lawyer told Compass Direct. “But we know that the prison officials and guards have extended very good cooperation with Hamid these past months,” the Christian was quoted as saying, apparently on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.

REGULAR VISITS

A lay pastor jailed 18 months ago, Pourmand has regular visits at home with his family for three to five days each month, Christians said.

He was reportedly released for a special visit at Christmas time, apparently under international pressure. “They are very kind and polite to him, and they are very careful on how they treat him. People like his personality, and he is getting good treatment,” Compass Direct quoted the source as saying.

If Iranian authorities respond positively to this petition for amnesty, Pourmand’s lawyer believes he would be released by March 21. If he is not released by then the,

Hamid is expected to serve his complete three-year sentence.

Prison officials have reportedly stopped pressuring Pourmand to recant his Christian faith and return to Islam over the past four months. Pourmand, 48, was arrested on September 8, 2004, during a security police raid on an Assemblies of God church conference.

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

After five months in solitary confinement, the former army officer was arraigned before a military court that found him guilty of deceiving the Iranian military by concealing his conversion from Islam to Christianity. Iranian law prohibits any non-Muslim from exercising authority over a Muslim.

Pourmand, a former Muslim, became a Christian in his 20s. He charged with religious proselytizing and committing apostasy, an offense punishable by the death penalty under Islamic law in Iran.

After reports in international media, including BosNewsLife, he was acquitted on the religious charges by an Islamic law (sharia) court. Pourmand was sentenced however to three years in prison at a military court martial.

Pourmand and his wife, Arlet, an Assyrian Christian, have two teenage sons. After his court martial, Pourmand was dishonorably discharged from the Iranian army; his family was subsequently evicted from their home in military housing in Bandar-i Bushehr.