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Iran : Authorities ‘Temporarily’ Release Badly Injured Christian

Local police demand US$43,000 bail from convert’s family.

ICC Note

Mr. Mohsen Namvar, an Iranian Christian, was arrested on May 31, 2008. When the police released him on June 26, 2008, it was evident that he had been injured as the result of the mistreatment he was exposed to while in prison. Please pray for the safety of Iranian Christians.

07/03/2008 Iran (Compass Direct News) – After four weeks in police custody, Iranian Christian Mohsen Namvar was released “temporarily” last week to return to his home in Tehran .

A doctor summoned to Namvar’s home after his release last Thursday (June 26) administered medicines and serum to treat the badly beaten prisoner.

The physician reported that the 44-year-old house church leader had a fever and very high blood pressure. “His body is still in shock,” one Iranian Christian told Compass, “and his hands and feet are shaking all the time.”

The source added, “Maybe they were afraid he would die in prison.”

Arrested on May 31 from his home in Tehran , the convert from Islam was kept incommunicado until his release on June 26. Although once someone called his home saying he was all right, “It was not his voice,” a source told Compass.

Namvar has refused to answer questions from his wife about his weeks under arrest, saying, “Don’t ask me anything.” He has also avoided removing his clothes in her presence to prevent her from seeing the extent of his injuries.

“They put a great deal of pressure on his body and his mind,” the source said. “No one knows exactly what they did to him during those four weeks.”

Noting that government authorities know a great deal about Namvar’s Christian activities and want to punish him, the source said, “We praise the Lord that they have not killed him.”

Namvar was unable to walk for several months after he was arrested and severely tortured with electrical shocks in the spring of 2007, allegedly for baptizing Muslims who had become Christians.

Stiff Bail Demand

Last week local secret police authorities demanded that Namvar’s family put up just over US$43,000 in bail to secure his release, which they cautioned would only last for “a short time.”

Relatives came up with half of the bail demand and then borrowed the rest, but when they requested a formal receipt for the cash handed over on June 26, police refused to supply one.

“Don’t say anything,” a police official reportedly ordered them. “Give thanks to God that we are not keeping him under arrest.”

The imprisoned Christian’s case did not come before any local court or magistrate, his family has confirmed. “All of the authorities are thieves,” commented one Iranian Christian living abroad. “This bail was not ordered by a judge at all. The police are just putting this money in their own pockets.”

Police authorities who raided Namvar’s home while arresting him had already confiscated a large sum of cash along with his computer, printer, CDs and books.

During the past few years, courts have ordered arrested Christians to turn over their property deeds as bail collateral before releasing prisoners. But over recent months, the secret police have dispensed with court proceedings and demanded cash payments from the prisoners’ families.

Ongoing Threats

Ten days after Namvar’s arrest, police again ransacked and searched his home, threatening his wife Fereshteh and making intimidating comments to her.

About the same time, the couple’s 12-year-old son was approached at school by a stranger who offered to take him home, “because your father is not here.” But the lad first called his mother, who instructed him not to accompany the stranger. Since then the worried mother has escorted him to and from school every day.

During the weeks Namvar was under arrest, his wife was also subjected to a number of threatening telephone calls. Because she and her husband had rejected Islam, the anonymous callers said, “We must punish you, and we must kill you.”

At least 14 other Iranian Christians have been reported arrested in separate incidents in Shiraz and Tehran since early May. Most have been released after interrogations, some with pending charges of activities against either Islam or the state.

But Mahmood Matin and a second man identified only by his first name, Arash, have remained in custody since their arrest in Shiraz on May 13.