Sudan releases pastor imprisoned without charge since December

Telahoon Kassa, left, and Hassan Taour were detained in December 2015 in Sudan.World Watch Monitor

An evangelical pastor held without charge in a Sudanese prison since December has been released, according to his brother.

Telahoon Nogose Kassa was one of two church leaders held by the authorities after they were arrested by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services. The other, Rev Hassan Abduraheem Kodi Taour, vice-moderator of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC), remains in custody.

Kassa's brother wrote on his Facebook page: "Finally, Telahoon is released, thanks for your prayers and hope the rest will be released."

When the men were arrested Sudanese religious freedom activist Kamal Fahmi told World Watch Monitor, a persecution watch group, that the cases were "representative of a much larger campaign by Sudan's government to eradicate Christianity" since the secession of South Sudan in 2011.

Fahmi said Sudan had intensified the "indiscriminate harassment and arrests of church leaders and active church members". "Foreign Christian workers have been deported. Sudan has stopped the import of Christian literature and scriptures, while confiscating most of the Christian literature in the country and closing the only Christian bookshop in the capital Khartoum," he said.

Among other counter-Christian measures the Sudanese government announced in April 2013 that no new licences would be granted to build churches. Church building have been bulldozed on the grounds that they belonged to the South Sudanese.

Sudan is designated a Country of Particular Concern by the US State Department and is eighth on the 2016 Open Doors World Watch List of countries where Christians are persecuted.

The country's president, Omar al-Bashir, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.