By Worthy News Middle East Service
- TEHRAN, IRAN (Worthy News)-- Iran has released on bail a man who was jailed because he converted from Islam to Christianity, but several others remain detained because they are unable to pay for their freedom Iranian Christians said Monday, April 11.
Mehdi Forutan was freed from Tehran's notorious Evin prison late Saturday, April 9, after 105 days of detention and paying a massive bail of some $50,000, said Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News which has close contacts with prosecuted believers.
He was among at least 60 believers who were detained around Christmas, most of whom have since been temporarily released, according to rights activists and local Christians. "Most have been released except for three guys who were unable to pay the bail money," Iranian Christians told BosNewsLife.
All will face a trial on a variety of charges ranging from "apostasy, promoting Christianity" and having illegal contacts with "Christian organizations out of the country," Mohabat News reported.
Forutan was detained by four intelligence officers Sunday morning December 26, while he was in his father's house, Iranian Christians said.
Security forces reportedly took his computer, Compact Disks and books while searching his home. They reportedly did not return his belongings after his release in bail.
Among those staying behind in prison is Farshid Fathi, Mohabat News reported. "Judicial authorities have demanded a very heavy bail for his release, which is impossible for his family to pay," the agency said.
He reportedly told his family that he is in a "good mental and physical condition" but "still hopes that judicial authorities will lower the bail price" so he can reunite with his family.
Separately another man, who has also been identified in reports as Mehdi Forutan, appeared in front of a court in recent days along with fellow believers.
Mohabat News said the man represents a religious group that does not believe in the trinity of God. More details were not immediately available about the reported trial in Shiraz.
Under Iran's strict interpretation of Islamic law conversions are forbidden and people caught can face charges of blasphemy or other accusations that potentially carry the death penalty or at least harsh prison sentences.
Iran's government has defended harsh sentences saying they are aimed at protecting the Islamic values of the country. (With reporting by Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos)