Czech Christian flies home from Sudan after presidential pardon

Release International calls on Khartoum to free two Sudanese men jailed with him, Rev Hassan Abduraheem and Abdulmonem Abdumawla

Petr Jašek, the Christian aid worker sentenced to life in prison in Sudan for spying, is back home on Czech soil today after the Czech Foreign Minister flew to Khartoum yesterday to negotiate his release.

Jašek is reported to have arrived in Prague late last night after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir issued a pardon. He was to have served more than 20 years in jail – simply for helping a student from Darfur who’d been injured at a rally. As it was, he spent 445 days behind bars.

But the two Sudanese men convicted with him – Pastor Hassan Abduraheem, and Abdulmonem Abdumawla – remain in prison. Release CEO Paul Robinson says it’s important that their plight should not be forgotten.

‘We’re delighted to hear that Petr’s safely back home and that the Government of Sudan has accepted that his actions in Sudan were not motivated by anything other than compassion,’ says Paul Robinson.

‘But we must not forget the two other men caught up in this, Hassan and Abdulmonem. Are we going to stop campaigning or talking about this issue just because a European, Petr, is free?

‘Release will continue to call on Sudan to respect the rights of Christians and others and to release these men, whose only crime was compassion.’

Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour announced the news of Jašek’s release yesterday at a joint press conference with his Czech counterpart, Lubomír Zaorálek, who had flown to Khartoum for negotiations earlier that day.

Jašek, Pastor Abduraheem and Abdumawla were accused of funding rebel movements in areas such as South Kordofan and Darfur. Jašek was sentenced to life imprisonment on January 29 after being found guilty of various charges, including spying and inciting hatred. He was also fined 100,000 Sudanese pounds (more than £12,000) for undertaking NGO work without a permit.

Pastor Abduraheem and Abdumawla were each sentenced to 12 years: they were convicted of various charges but their main ‘crime’ was ‘aiding and abetting’ Jašek. Their lawyers have lodged appeals against these sentences.

Jašek travelled to Khartoum in December 2015 to give the injured student from Darfur $5,000 towards his medical costs. Security agents searching his bags at Khartoum Airport found the receipt for his donation and detained him on the spot, accusing him of supporting rebels.

Petr Jašek has a 20-year background in the medical field, including ten years as a hospital administrator. He has worked to provide care to Christians in Sudan and Nigeria, including medical care for Christians attacked by Boko Haram.

Christians in Sudan have been under intense pressure since South Sudan became independent in 2011 and President Bashir vowed to bring Sudan under a stricter form of Islamic rule.

Release CEO Paul Robinson thanked everyone who had prayed for the three men since their arrest: ‘Let’s thank God for Petr’s release but let’s also continue to pray that Hassan and Abdulmonem will also be set free, and soon. Pray that their appeal will be heard quickly now and will be successful.’

Through its international network of missions Release serves persecuted Christians in 30 countries around the world, by supporting pastors and Christian prisoners, and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles, and working for justice. Release is a member of the UK organisations Global Connections and the Evangelical Alliance.

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