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Iran Releases Two Pastors Sentenced to Years in Prison

12-29-2014

An appeals court in Iran has thrown out the convictions of three pastors accused of committing crimes against national security, according to the Christian News Network.

The church leaders had been sentenced to six years in prison for "creating a network to overthrow the system."

Two of the men, Abdolreza Ali-Haghnejad and Reza Rabbani, have been released. The third, Pastor Benham Irani, still has two years remaining on an earlier sentence.

Irani leads a 300-member church in Karaj and was detained in 2006 for holding a Bible study.

He was convicted of action against the state and sentenced to five years in prison. An additional charge added more time to his sentence.

International Christian Concern rejoiced after learning that the men had been vindicated.

"It is encouraging to see the Iranian judicial system rule on the merits of the case, rather than simply exploiting the system as a means of persecuting religious minorities, as is regularly the case," Regional Manager Todd Daniels said.

"It is a fundamental aspect of religious freedom to be able to meet together with others who share your beliefs. For too long, the Iranian regime has treated such meetings as a threat to national security," he added.

"We continue to call for the full release of Pastor Benham Irani, Saeed Abedini, and the dozens more who are imprisoned unjustly," he said.

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