By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - An Iranian Christian who went missing for nearly a month after his detention by Iranian authorities has been released and found, Worthy News learned Wednesday.
Local Christmas said in published remarks they “are thankful that Ayoub Poor-Rezazade” was freed on bail.
Ayoub was arrested with two other Christian converts on September 5 amid mounting pressure on Christian converts in the strict Islamic nation.
“There had been no news from him or about him since September 8,” confirmed advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC) which closely followed the case.
His disappearance caused “consternation, especially since his friends were released on September 21 and had no news of Ayoub’s whereabouts,” MEC told Worthy News.
However, on October 3, “after submitting bail of 400 million tomans (about $15,000), Ayoub was released from Lakan Prison” in the coastal city of Rasht, MEC stressed. His friends had also submitted the same bail.
Ayoub spent 10 days in custody of the Revolutionary Guard before being transferred to solitary confinement in Lakan Prison, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
He had been separated from his friends to be interrogated about church finances in what his supporters view as trumped-up charges.
In remarks released by MEC, his family and friends said they “thank the Lord that he is safe and has been released from detention.”
However, they also asked “for prayer” that
“Ayoub and his friends Morteza and Ahmad will be acquitted of charges related to the peaceful exercise of their Christian faith.”
They pray that “Iranian authorities will stop the persecution of Christians and other religious communities” amid reports of widespread arrests and crackdowns on house churches.
Christians earlier expressed concern that the recent election of Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s president would lead to more persecution of faith groups, including the Christian community.
With Christianity spreading, President Raisi was appointed by hardline Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and is seen as his intended successor.
His election this year was discredited by independent election observers as Muslim reformers or moderates were reportedly banned from running for the position.
Despite the reported persecution, Elam Ministries, a mission group of Iranian church leaders, has said that “Iranians are coming to Christ across the region” every day.
Christian rights investigators say there are at least some 800,000 devoted Christian in Iran, among a mainly Muslim population of more than 83 million people.