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Iranian Christian Prisoners
Iranian Revolutionary Court sentenced two Christians to a total of ten years in prison. One of the two convicts is from an Islamic background, currently serving another sentence in prison, and the other is an Armenian believer who is conditionally free on bail.
According to Mohabat News, Branch 28 of the central Revolutionary Court sentenced Ebrahim Firouzi, a Christian convert, to an additional five years in prison. He is already serving another sentence in Rajaei-Shahr prison. The same court sentenced Sevada Aghasar, an Iranian-Armenian Christian, to five years in prison. Mr. Aghasar is currently free on bail.
The Iranian court, announced their new charges as “action against national security through collusion and gathering”.
Mr. Firouzi’s attorney says, the five year sentence is the highest possible punishment for the charges laid against his client. He also stated that this is an initial ruling and they plan to appeal it.
Ebrahim Firouzi is a Christian prisoner currently held in ward 10 of Rajaei-Shahr prison together with other Christian prisoners. He, as well as his Christian inmates, are held in the same ward as dangerous criminals, which is against the law of classification and separation of inmates. He visited his lawyer for the first time in a court hearing on March 8, 2015.
Mr. Firouzi was initially arrested on August 25, 2013. Prior to that he had been convicted of several charges including propaganda against the Islamic regime, evangelism, contact with anti-Islamic agents abroad and founding a Christian website, for which he was sentenced to one year in prison and two years of exile to the remote town of Sarbaz. Although he completed his initial sentence on January 13, 2015, Iranian authorities kept him in prison for new charges.
Sevada Aghasar is another convict in this case, and was given a five year sentence. He is an Iranian-Armenian resident of Tehran who had been temporarily released on Sunday March 2, 2014, after enduring six months in ward 350 of Evin prison.
Mr. Aghasar appeared in the same court as Mr. Firouzi on March 8, 2015, and was charged with action against national security through collusion and gathering. Mr. Firouzi appeared in court first and Mr. Aghasar was tried immediately after him on the same day. Should the appeal court approve his sentence, Mr. Aghasar will be sent to prison to serve his five year sentence.
A report of Aghasar’s arrest, published about two years ago, states that he was arrested together with Ebrahim Firouzi and Masoud Mirzaei on August 21, 2013, as they were meeting in Mr. Mirzaei’s work office.
At the time of that arrest, knowledgeable sources told Mohabat News that Ebrahim had said that he was supposed to report to the judicial authorities on Saturday to serve his one year sentence in prison. Thus, the purpose of Ebrahim and Sevada’s visit to Masoud’s office was solely to visit friends and say goodbye to them. Now, two of these friends are being sentenced to ten years in prison for a simple farewell visitation.
Sevada Aghasar, is an Iranian Armenian citizen and a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church. On another occasion, Aghasari’s house had been searched by the authorities and some of his belongings were seized in connection with the arrest of a Christian convert.
According to the first 2015 report of Ahmad Shaheed, UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, at least 92 Christians have been in Iranian prisons for their faith since January 2015. The report also states that in 2014 alone, 69 Christian converts were arrested and held in custody for at least 24 hours.