A Czech Christian aid worker who has been detained in Sudanese prison since December 2015 has now been released and pardoned.
Petr Jašek, 52, had been arrested in December 2015 and was sentenced in January this year to 24 years in jail with charges of inciting hatred and spying. Now Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has ordered Jašek's pardon and release, News24 reports.
Jašek, part of a small Protestant church called Cirkev Bratrska, went to Sudan in the hope of helping persecuted Christians in the region.
He was arrested in 2015 after attempting to support the medical costs of a Sudanese student. In January Jašek was convicted by a court of entering Sudan illegally, inciting hatred, and spying on the military. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison and fined 100,000 Sudanese pounds (about £12,500) for working with an NGO without a permit.
On Sunday a joint press conference in Khartoum between Sudanese foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour and Czech foreign minister Lubomir Zaoralek announced Jašek's release.
'President Bashir has pardoned Czech national Petr Jašek because of good relations between Sudan and the Czech Republic. Mr Jašek will accompany the Czech foreign minister to his homeland,' Ghandour said.
Zaoralek said: 'I am very glad that we are able today to conclude the case of Mr Jašek,' adding that the Sudanese government was now convinced that Jašek 'had no intention to undermine' them.
On Sunday, Jašek flew back to Prague with Zaoralek.
World Watch Monitor reports that over 400,000 people signed a CitizenGO petition appealing for Jašek's release, and that friends of Jašek wept at the news of his release.
Sudan is fifth on Open Door's 2017 World Watch List, which ranks the 50 countries where it is hardest to be a Christian. Many Christians in Sudan face arrest and extended detention on the charge of 'undermining national security'.