Iranian Christian Convert Detained by Secret Police

A former Muslim who converted to Christianity is being held by Iran's secret police on suspicion of "apostasy," or leaving Islam, according to a report Wednesday.

Mahmood Matin, 52, has been held in a detention center in the southern city of Shiraz since his arrest on May 15, according to Compass Direct news. His wife, who visited him on June 24, said Matin did not know where he was being held until she told him, according to a source who requested to remain anonymous for security reasons.

Matin told his wife that authorities were pressing him to reveal what foreign church he was connected to. But that he told them he was not related to any church outside of Iran.

The imprisoned convert claims he is being treated well, but his wife believes otherwise. During their five-minute conversation, officials were listening in, the source noted.

Matin was originally arrested in May when he met with 13 other Muslim converts to Christianity in a park in Shiraz.

Under Iranian law, apostasy is a crime that can be punishable by death. The county's parliament is reviewing this month a draft penal code that would make the death penalty mandatory for anyone found guilty of leaving Islam or who uses the Internet to encourage others to do so.

The June 24 visit was the first and only face-to-face contact the Matin family had been allowed since his arrest. His wife had traveled 17 hours by bus from her home in Tehran to visit her jailed husband.

Iran is ranked third on Open Doors' World Watch List for countries with the worst persecution of Christians. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom also lists Iran as a "Country of Particular Concern," a label given to countries with the worst religious freedom abuses.