By BosNewsLife News Center

Vahik Abramian, who was released, with his wife Sonia Keshish Avanessian

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (BosNewsLife)– A prosecuted Dutch-Iranian pastor arrived in the Netherlands Friday, September 16, after spending one year in an Iranian jail on charges of spreading Christianity, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said.

Vahik Abramian, 45, was detained last year in Iran’s western city of Hamedan, some 337 kilometers (210 miles) outside the capital Tehran as part of what rights activists called a “government crackdown on Christian converts” in Iran, a strict Islamic nation.

His wife Sonia Keshish Avanessian and two friends, who were also detained in the September 2010 raids, were already released on April 30 this year, Iranian Christians said.

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal described Abramian’s August release as “a step in the right direction.” He confirmed that the Netherlands had been unable to provide diplomatic assistance as Iran does not recognize double nationality of Iranians.

Rosenthal said there is a new dialogue with Iran.

In January tensions rose between the two states after Iran unexpectedly hanged Dutch-Iranian Zahra Bahrami. Iranian officials said Bahrami, 45, was hanged for possessing and selling drugs.

Critics questioned the fairness of the trial, saying she was detained in Tehran during protests against the re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in December 2009.

Rosenthal, who has faced criticism over the case, has promised that the Netherlands will faster react in cases where people with a Dutch nationality face execution. There are at least three Dutch citizens jailed in Iran, Dutch media reported.


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