In an encouraging step the pastor of Iran’s largest Persian speaking church has been “conditionally released” from prison. Pastor Asserian was arrested in late May as part of a crackdown on Christian activity on the country. While terms of the release are not yet clear this is a small positive sign for Iran’s Christian community which continues to face serious restrictions and hostilities.
7/4/2013 Iran (BosNewsLife) – The pastor of Iran’s largest Persian speaking Pentecostal church has been “conditionally released” from prison but his congregation in the capital Tehran remains closed, Iranian Christians told BosNewsLife Thursday, July 4.
Robert Asserian, a key leader at the Central Assemblies of God Church, was taken into custody during a worship service on May 21 as part of a wider crackdown on growing evangelical churches in the country that authorities deem dangerous for the strict Islamic nation, Christians said.
Mohabat News, an agency of Iranian Christians and activists, told BosNewsLife that there is “no clear information on how Pastor Asserian was released.” However, “it appears that he was temporarily released on bail on July 2,” they said, though the amount was not immediately revealed.
Among other conditions for his release was for him and his family to remain “silent” about their ordeal towards media, said Iranian Christians familiar with the case.
“The condition ‘silence for freedom’, shows that Iranian authorities want to portray actions such as releasing prisoners as human rights improvement in Iran,” Mohabat News commented. “[They] do not want prisoners to speak out in contradicting this” image, the agency explained.