According to Mohabat News reporters, a Christian convert, Noorollah Qabitizade, who had been arrested for his Christian faith, was released after being held captive for nearly 19 months.
Mr. Qabitizade spent his time in prison in Dezful and Ahwaz. He was released on July 16, 2012 from Karoon prison in Ahwaz following an order issued by judicial authorities of Khuzestan province.
Noorollah Qabitizade had been arrested on December 24, 2010 together with 10 other Christian converts. They had gathered to celebrate Christmas Eve in a house-church in Dezful when security authorities attacked their meeting, hand-cuffed and blind-folded him. He was then transferred to an abandoned house where only two security agents were present. Later he was transferred to the Intelligence office of Ahwaz for further interrogation.
The Iranian Christian, a resident of Dezful, was subjected to numerous interrogation sessions. Security interrogators subjected him to severe mental torture and solitary confinement in an effort to cause him leave his faith in Christianity. The mental torture ranged from forcing him to sign a disclaimer stating that he would stop evangelizing, to writing a letter denouncing his Christian faith.
His trial was held in September 2011 in Criminal Branch one of Ahwaz court, chaired by Judge Pour-Mohammadian. An eye witness told Mohabat News that Mr. Qabitizadeh was brought to the court with his hands and feet in chains. To put more mental pressure on him and intimidate him, he was also told that he was going to be sentenced to death in that session of his trial.
Noorollah Qabitizade, who is 48 years old, was among those arrested during a broad wave of arrests of Christians all across the country carried out by Iranian security and intelligence authorities at Christmas 2010.
At that time, security authorities arrested more than 60 Christians and house church members all across Iran in a pre-organized and well-coordinated plan. After these Christians were arrested, their families were informed that their charges were apostasy (changing religion), promoting Christianity and being in touch with Christian organizations as well as formation of house-churches.
The day after this incident, many regime-supported media reported that evangelical Christian leaders in Tehran and other cities had been arrested. They broadcasted this report broadly in their own media. Morteza Tamadon, Tehran Governor, also called these Christians extreme propagators who enter the body of Islam like "corrupted and deviated ones".
He also promised to increase the pressure and arrest of evangelical Christians.
In addition, during his speech on October 19 in Qom, for the first time Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei warned against the growth of house churches along with false mysticism and Baha'ism. Following his speech a new wave of attacks by Iranian security and judicial authorities was initiated and made the situation even tougher for Christians, especially those with an Islamic background. It also caused the attacks to be more organized and coordinated.
This even worsened since the beginning of 2011 and reached official churches as well. Iranian security authorities further restricted official churches and even ordered the cancellation of some Farsi-language church services and closure of some churches in Iran. These pressures continue even to the present.