A Pakistani Christian accused of blasphemy has been released on bail, ahead of his next hearing on 20 October.

Pervaiz Masih, an illiterate Christian labourer from the Punjab city of Kasur, was arrested on 2 September, after being accused by three colleagues of using “blasphemous words”.

In Pakistan, a blasphemy conviction can result in the death penalty. Rights groups say the laws are often abused to settle personal scores against minority groups, such as Christians.

The Voice Society hailed Masih’s release on bail as a “huge success”.

“He is one of the rarest cases in the history of Pakistan,” said Aneeqa Maria Anthony. “It’s a big achievement for us because Kasur is one of the conservative areas of Punjab and it is very dangerous to contest a case like this in such an area.”

Anthony added that the Voice’s team had been detained by police in the middle of the night and threatened and harassed.

Masih’s lawyer, Tahir Gull, told UCA News: “We are glad that speedy justice has been served. There was no evidence whatsoever against Masih that he made any derogatory remarks.”