Three Iranian Christians have been released from prison in the southern city of Shiraz. Although officially they have been granted only temporary leave, Middle East Concern reports that they have been led to believe they will not have to return.

Mehdi Ameruni, Seyed Bijan Farokhpour Haghigi and Eskander Rezai were arrested at a prayer meeting in Shiraz in October 2012, with four other Christians. The seven Christians, all part of the self-styled “Church of Iran”, were given prison sentences of between one and three years for “action against national security” and “propaganda against the order of the system”.

Of the original seven, only Mohammed (Vahid) Roghangir, the leader of the house church, and Massoud Rezai remain in prison.

Meanwhile, Mohabat News claims a new strategy of the Iranian government is to offer temporary release to Christians on the understanding that they will leave the country – against their will.