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Iranian Christian Prisoners
In a follow up session in the Revolutionary Court in Robat-Karim, Ebrahim Firouzi was sentenced to one year in prison and two years exile to a remote border town.
According to the Iranian Christian News agency, Mohabat News, the Revolutionary Court in Robat-Karim finalized Ebrahim Firouzi’s case. The court sentenced him to one year of imprisonment and two years exile to a remote border town for his Christian faith.
The Court’s decision, issued on July 15, 2013, reads, “According to the court’s decision, evangelism activities of the accused, Ebrahim Firouzi, are considered to be in opposition to the regime of the Republic Islamic of Iran, and thus the court condemns him to one year of imprisonment including the days already served in prison.”
Another part of the two-page court report, a copy of which was made available to Mohabat News, states that, “According to article 19 of the Islamic Penal Code, and supplementary article 23 of the Islamic Penal Code passed in 1392 (Persian Year), the above named person is condemned to spend two years in exile in the border town of Sarbaz in Sistan and Baluchestan province.”
The report adds, “Books (Bibles), and other means of evangelism taken from him, including his personal computer, which were used to commit this ‘crime’ will be seized in favor of the government and destroyed.”
Ali Babaei, the judge handling the case, also accused Mr. Firouzi of “propagating against the Islamic regime, starting and directing an evangelism group, contact with opponents of the Islamic Revolution and anti-Islamic regime networks in foreign countries”. He then stated, the subject person has also started a Christian website related to his activities, distributed evangelical books and Bibles which were smuggled into the country, and so maintained his position as an anti-Islamic Revolution agent inside the country. He also attended illegal house-churches in order to promote evangelical Christianity.”
In another part of the ruling, Mr. Babaei described holding house church services as a criminal act which spreads profligacy among youth and creates doubts in their minds about Islamic principles.
The Christian young man has not been able to afford to hire a lawyer and the court’s decision was delivered directly to him last week.
It is worth mentioning that the tendency of young Iranians towards Christianity, especially in the past few years, has made conversion to Christianity a troubling issue among Iranian authorities. As many Farsi-speaking churches have been closed down in Tehran and other cities across the country and pressure on Christian converts is increasing, and due to security concerns, many of Christian converts prefer to gather in their own houses (house churches) in small groups to worship and learn Christian teachings.
Earlier Mr. Firouzi had been tried on July 6, 2013, in Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court in Robat-Karim where his charges were officially announced to him.
Ebrahim Firouzi is a Christian convert resident of Robat-Karim, a town 40 KM south-west of Tehran. He had been arrested on March 7, 2013, when four plainclothes security officers raided his workplace. Then he was transferred to the infamous ward 209 of Evin prison where he was subjected to intense interrogation for 10 consecutive days. After 53 days in prison, he was temporarily released on a 30 million Tomans bail.
Having served 53 days in prison, which will be included as part of his official prison term, he must serve the rest of his one year sentence after which he will receive a summons letter from prison authorities. According to the ruling, after his time in prison, he will then be exiled to a town near the Iran-Pakistan border in Sistan and Baluchestan province for two more years.
The town of his exile, Sarbaz, has a 70% Sunni Muslim population.
According to the report, Mr. Firouzi has 20 days to file an appeal of his sentence and ask an appeal court to review this ruling.
Mr. Firouzi had been arrested on January 11, 2011 as well. On that occasion he had been interrogated and transferred to Ghezel-Hessar prison in Karaj where he spent 154 days in custody and released conditionally.