Four Christians were sentenced to forty years prison terms in Iran

The Islamic Revolution court sentenced three Azerbaijani Christian citizens and an Iranian converted Christian to forty years prison terms altogether.

Report received by “Mohabat News” indicate that the Islamic Revolution court in Tehran, has sentenced each of these Christians to ten year prison terms, totaling forty years altogether.

These individuals are:

1: Naser Navard Goltapeh, aged 46, a new converted Christian in Iran

2: Bahram Nasibov Alkan Oglu, aged 38, married, from Baku, Azerbaijan

3: Yusif Farhadov Talt Oglu, aged 53, married, from Baku, Azerbaijan

4: Eldar Gurbanov, aged 49, married, from Baku, Azerbaijan

According to this report, these prison terms were announced on 22nd of June 2017 by Judge Ahmadzadeh, in 26th branch of Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran with the knowledge of their lawyers. These four Christians were accused and charged, subsequent to a raid, and sentenced to a maximum of 10 year prison terms for each of the defendants based on the section 498 of Islamic Republic’s Penal code. They were accused of violating the national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the destruction of the government’s limitations on religious activities by promoting Christianity and association with a foreign organization, “Word of Life” church, and promoting Zionist Christianity. Bahram Nasibov, Yusif Farhadov, and Eldar Gurbanov are three Azerbaijani Christians who are also the members of “Word of Life” church in Baku. These three believers are out of Iran presently and their sentences were announced in absentia. Their lawyers were nevertheless informed of the verdicts.

These three Christian tourists had come to Tehran on June 24, 2016 to visit one of their peers, but were arrested by the secret security agents of Sepah Information Organization along with a several other converted Christians, at the home of one of the Christian participants in the Andisheh township of Karaj.

These three Christians from Baku, along with “Naser Navard Goltapeh”, the converted Iranian Christian in Iran and the other member accused in this raid, were temporarily released with heavy bail postings from Evin prison in Tehran on November 7, 2017, having spent more than 4 months in detention and after signing a promissory covenant. After their temporary release and exiting the country, these three individuals spoke of the incident and their arrest with CBN Christian News agency in a TV show. Bahram Nasibov said that more than 30 security agents came to arrest them on that day and they immediately transferred them to Evin Prison.
He added: “although l had been arrested by Azerbaijan security agents many times in the past for my Christian beliefs, this one was much more difficult.” He sees this incident as a very harsh one. Later, Eldar Gurbanov followed by stating: “the judge in Evin Prison had told us that we might be in prison for 10 years.”

Once these people were arrested in Iran and after their transfer to Evin Prison, the International Society for Human Rights (IGFM) and the Protestant news agency (IDEA), wrote letters to the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, calling for the release of these believers.

Although the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic was aware that these three Azerbaijani believers had posted heavy bails and had left the country and they would definitely never come back, nonetheless the 10 years prison term for Naser Golnavard was upheld- a very high price for his family and the Christian society in Iran.

Mansour Borji, the spokesperson for 18 CLAUSE Organization that is active for the rights of Christians in Iran said in his interview with Mohabat News: “the accusations directed toward these believers lacked any legal basis and the punishments prescribed for them was an obvious violation of religious freedoms.”

The religious government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has banned the entrance of any Persian speaking citizens into any “Official Church buildings” since 2012. That is why converts are left with no other options than gathering in non-official churches like “house churches”.
According to the government and security officials, these gatherings are illegal and they periodically raided by the security agents. The officials and leaders of such “House Churches” often face charges like “actions against national the security of the Islamic Republic of Iran by hosting House Churches.”/ Farsi