Published February 23, 2011
An Afghan Red Cross worker who was arrested last spring for converting to Christianity has been released from an Afghanistan prison.
The worker, Said Musa, 46, was released from prison last week "after aggressive international diplomacy engaged Afghanistan’s government," International Christian Concern, an organization that worked directly with his case, said in a written statement Thursday.
Musa, who left Islam roughly eight years ago, was arrested in May after an Afghan TV report showed locals being baptized and called for the government to crack down on apostasy.
The father of six who lost a leg to a land mine and was working to help amputees reportedly was abused in prison and threatened with death if he did not renounce his faith.
According to ICC, Musa wrote in a Feb. 13 letter that U.S. and Italian Embassies offered him asylum but that Afghan officials subsequently told him that he would only be released if he wrote a statement declaring that he regretted his conversion to Christianity.
"I refused their demands,” he wrote.
Even so, on Feb. 21 an official from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul told the organization Musa was released and safely out of the country.
“We cannot be more thrilled about Said Musa’s release. It has been encouraging to see the international community, including churches, reporters and government officials in Europe and North America, work together for the common goal of freeing Said," Aidan Clay, ICC's regional manager for the Middle East, said in the statement. "Many sleepless nights, prayers and tears have paid off."
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, which advises the federal government on international violations of religious freedom, said Musa's release is a good start in addressing a bigger problem.
“While the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes Said Musa’s release, the fact that he was in jail demonstrates the serious deficiencies in the Afghan legal system,” USCIRF chair Leonard Leo told FoxNews.com. “The U.S. government and international community need to seriously engage the Karzai government about protecting the religious freedoms of all Afghanis.”