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Afghan Christian convert released from prison as asylum search continues

[JURIST] Afghanistan's Justice Minister [ministry website, English version] said Tuesday that authorities have released Abdul Rahman [Wikipedia profile], the Afghan man who faced the death penalty [JURIST report] for converting from Islam to Christianity. Sarwar Danish did not provide any legal details, but prosecutors had indicated Monday that Rahman was undergoing a mental examination that could have contributed to the decision to free him. The Afghan government had been seeking a quiet way to let Rahman go after being put under major political pressure from Western nations [JURIST report]. On Sunday an Afghan court sent his case back to prosecutors [JURIST report], saying it was "flawed" and lacked necessary evidence. Afghan clerics and protestors Monday called for Rahman to stand trial [JURIST report] under sharia law [CFR backgrounder], and a chief cleric said last week that the Afghan people would kill the convert if he was released [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

The United Nations [official website] has meanwhile been looking for another country to accept Rahman after he requested asylum [JURIST report] abroad Monday. Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini [official profile], one of the first to call for Rahman's release, said Tuesday that he would ask the Italian cabinet to grant asylum [press release] to the convert. AP has more.

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