Assembly of Bishops Letter Requests the Release of Archbishop Jovan
On February 21, Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, sent a letter to the US Secretary of State, Ms. Hillary Clinton, requesting the immediate release of Jovan, the Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, who has been imprisoned under false accusations by the schismatic organization in F.Y.R. Macedonia.
On December 12, 2011, while attempting to enter the F.Y.R. Macedonia, Archbishop Jovan was arrested on the border in Medzitlija and taken to the “Idrizovo” prison near Skopje. He was sentenced on false charges in 2010 to a prison term, but since the court process was performed in his absence, he has a legal right to request a repeat of the procedure and to be granted a new court hearing in which he can defend himself. He was also arrested on November 16, 2010, at the Bulgarian border, at the request of the Macedonian bureau of Interpol, with regard to this same court sentence, but the court in Bulgaria released him, holding that the court verdict of F.Y.R. Macedonia was not on account of any guilt in accordance with criminal law, but rather on account of persecution for religious reasons, a persecution which the Archbishop has undergone for nine years.
Archbishop Demetrios of America, addressing the Secretary of State “in the name of the 65 Hierarchs who are part of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America,” mentioned the unfortunate situation of the Archbishop of Ohrid and added that “his arrest has a history of several years, from the time the schismatic church of FYROM (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) started persecuting Jovan, the canonical Archbishop of Ohrid.” Moreover, he pointed out that “the church of the FYROM is not recognized by any of the canonical Orthodox Churches throughout the world.”
As Jovan was unjustly imprisoned while attempting to fulfill his religious obligations, Archbishop Demetrios has asked the United States government, in accordance with its long history of protecting religious freedom, to intercede for him and thereby secure his release.