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03/06/2020 Iran (International Christian Concern) – Iran’s judiciary has furloughed 54,000 prisoners serving less than 5-year sentences who tested negative for the coronavirus in an attempt to control the disease’s spread through the prison system. Security prisoners with more than a 5-year sentence were excluded from temporary release.

Six Christians are known to have been included as part of the furloughed group. This includes Mary Mohammadi, Ramiel Bet-Tamraz, Rokhsareh Mahrokh Ghanbari, and Amin Khaki. However, most of Iran’s imprisoned Christians are security prisoners with sentences that exceeds five years. Many of those who have imprisoned relatives have condemned Iran’s choice to grant furloughs based on the length of one’s sentence, arguing that the coronavirus does not take these details into account when infecting people.

Iran has the highest number of reported cases outside of China. Iran has not officially confirmed the existence of the coronavirus within the prison system, but several reports exists. Iran’s prison system is overcrowded and the living conditions are extremely unhygienic, prompting fears of a mass outbreak. Already several Iranian officials have also been diagnosed with the virus, and the government is conducting arrests of those who spread fear about the virus.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org.