Czech national and long-time VOM staff member Petr Jasek has been released from prison in Sudan, following a pardon issued by Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. Petr was arrested by the Islamic Sudanese regime after visiting Sudanese Christians and providing a small gift to help with a man’s medical treatment. He was convicted of multiple “crimes” last month, including espionage and entering Sudan illegally. He was sentenced to life in prison for espionage, which according to Sudanese law means 20 years in prison, plus four additional years for other alleged crimes. Negotiations between the Sudanese and Czech governments have been ongoing since the sentence was announced, culminating in a visit to Khartoum by Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek. Zaorálek tweeted out a picture of Petr Jasek returning home on the plane with him Sunday afternoon.
Jasek was arrested in December 2015 and had remained in prison since that time. He was found guilty in January by a Sudanese court of “waging war against the state,” “violating restrictions in military areas,” “spreading rumors to defame the state,” committing “espionage” and “inciting strife between communities.”
Jasek has passionately served persecuted Christians as a staff member with The Voice of the Martyrs for more than 15 years. Prior to his arrest, he served as VOM’s Africa Regional Director. He traveled extensively throughout Africa, personally overseeing the delivery of material and spiritual assistance to Christians on behalf of VOM.
“Early in his imprisonment, Petr made the statement that ‘God holds the key to my cell,’” said VOM spokesperson Todd Nettleton. “We are so thankful that God has opened that cell door and that Petr is back with his family.”
Petr was originally tried with three Sudanese men, including two pastors. Near the end of the trial, the judge ruled that there was no evidence of a crime by Rev. Kuwa Shamaal, and he was released.
Rev. Hassan Abduraheem and Abdulmonem Abdumawla, however, were tried and found guilty of aiding Jasek in espionage. These two Sudanese men remain in prison, each serving a 12-year sentence.
“This has been a sobering reminder of the dangers VOM workers face as we serve persecuted Christians,” Nettleton said. “But it has been such a blessing to see Petr’s faith — and that of his family — shine through in this time of trial. Once again, God has shown Himself faithful. We are overjoyed at the opportunity to welcome our friend and co-worker home.”
After returning home, Mr. Jasek is expected to be hospitalized to evaluate the physical toll these long months in prison have taken on his body. He and his family request privacy as they reunite and begin to recover from this experience. After a period of rest, reflection and recovery, Mr. Jasek looks forward to sharing some of his experiences and the lessons God taught him in prison.
(This story originally appeared on www.Persecution.com.)