Afghan convert freed from jail

An Afghan man who could have faced the death penalty for converting to Christianity has been freed from jail.

Abdul Rahman, a Christian for 16 years, was charged with rejecting Islam but his case was dismissed because of insufficient evidence, officials said.

United Nations officials are meeting in Kabul to discuss Mr Rahman's plea for asylum in another country.

A UN spokesman said he expected asylum would be granted by a country "interested in a peaceful solution".

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Kabul says Mr Rahman was released from Kabul's main high security Pul-e-Charki prison late on Monday after officials decided he was mentally unfit to stand trial.

Mr Rahman is currently with officials from the justice ministry, Afghanistan's deputy attorney general Eshaq Aloko said.

UN spokesman Adrian Edwards said the organisation was working with the Afghan government to solve the asylum issue.

Mr Rahman was arrested about two weeks ago. Under Afghanistan's Sharia legal system he could have faced execution if he had refused to renounce Christianity.

The case sparked Western criticism, with the US, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy and Sweden among those demanding Afghanistan respect international laws on freedom of religion and human rights.

Mr Rahman's family had asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the case against him, saying he suffered from mental illness.

Judge Ansarullah Mawlavizada told the BBC there was considerable doubt that Mr Rahman was fit to stand trial.

According to Judge Mawlavizada, Mr Rahman appeared "disturbed".

The judge also said it was not clear if the accused was really an Afghan or a citizen of another country.

Several hundred people protested on Monday against the case's dismissal, reports BBC news.


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