Adopt a Prisoner

Give Hope!

"Remember those in prison as though you were together with them"
(Hebrews 13:3)

Many of the Christians who have spent time in prison in Iran have later shared with us that they felt completely abandoned after their arrest, and cut off from the world and their families. Interrogators will do their best to break the resolve - and faith - of these Christians, through intimidation and insults, and even threats to their families. Sometimes, the result of all this can be a total loss of hope. Therefore, we are inviting you, as an individual or church group, to consider adopting one of these prisoners: committing to remember them in your prayers, to stay updated on the details of their case, and to advocate publicly for their release. Doing so may just provide that prisoner with the encouragement they need to persevere through their trial.

Ebrahim Firouzi

Ebrahim Firouzi’s first arrest and imprisonment in 2011 was part of a wave of arrests in which a number of Christian converts from all over Iran were detained. Ebrahim’s dossier was processed at Branch 102 of Robat Karim Revolutionary Court and he was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment on charges of “propaganda against the regime, insulting Islamic sacraments and acting against national security” according to Islamic judicial law, Article No. 500. Ebrahim was tried unfairly, without access to a lawyer.

Ebrahim was arrested again on 7 March 2013 at his workplace by four plainclothes agents. He was detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison until 29 April, when he was released on bail having been able to raise the equivalent of approximately US $20,000.

The charges brought against him involved “establishing and managing a website about Christianity, receiving and distributing Bibles, cooperating with student activists and acting against national security”. On 6 July 2013, Ebrahim attended his first hearing at the Revolutionary Court in Robat Karim, this time facing charges relating to the “promotion of Christian Zionism” (which he denies) and "online Christian activities”. On 15 July 2013, the court found him guilty, sentencing him to one year’s imprisonment to be followed by two years’ "exile" in the border town of Sarbaz, in Sistan and Baluchestan Province.

On 21 August 2013, prior to commencing his sentence, Ebrahim was rearrested in Karaj along with two other Christian converts and returned to Evin Prison. On 2 October 2013, Ebrahim was relocated from Evin Prison to Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj.

He was due to be released on 13 January 2015 after completing his prison sentence. sentence. However, he remained detained and was re-tried on 5 March 2015 and charged with “acting against national security, gathering, and collusion”. At the end of April 2015, Ebrahim was sentenced to five years in prison. He appealed the sentence unsuccessfully on 11 December 2016 and his original sentence was upheld. 

Ebrahim was released from prison on 26 October 2019 but is now serving two years in internal exile.

Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh

Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh was arrested on 24 June 2016 at a private gathering along with three believers from the “Word of Life” church in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani believers arrested were Eldar Gurbanov, Yusif Farhadov and Bahram Nasibov. All those arrested were held in solitary confinement for two months in Evin Prison for interrogation. They were all eventually convicted in court of “illegal gathering and collusion against the Islamic regime through evangelism”.

Nasser and the Azerbaijani Christians were temporarily released on bail of approximately US$35,000 each on 29 October 2016. All three Azerbaijani Christians forfeited their bail and returned to their own country immediately after their release.

Following a court hearing in Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court on 23 May 2017 Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh sentenced Nasser (and the Azerbaijani defendants in absentia) to 10 years in prison for “action against national security and establishing house churches”. The judge based his ruling on evidence submitted by the Ministry of Intelligence, but not made available during the court session or given to Nasser’s lawyer to review. The verdict was upheld in an appeal hearing on 12 November 2017 and Nasser started serving his sentence in Ward 8 of Evin Prison on 20th January 2018.

Family members have expressed concern over his health during detention and two teeth had to be removed following infection of the gums.

During his detention Nasser has also had three requests for a retrial rejection. In June 2021 he was rejected parole, despite being eligible after serving more than one third of his sentence. Ministry of Intelligence agents told him his request had been denied because he had "not changed from his position", i.e. he still professes to be a Christian.

Meanwhile, Iranian regime figures including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have repeatedly claimed that "no-one is imprisoned in Iran for their beliefs".

Yousef Nadarkhani

On 13 May 2016, Pastor Yousef and his wife were arrested along with Mohammad Reza (Youhan) Omidi, Mohammad Ali (Yasser) Mossayebzadeh and Zaman (Saheb) Fadaie. Yousef and his wife were released on the same day.

On 24 July 2016, Yousef was summoned to the 13th Branch of the Revolutionary Court in Rasht. He was formally charged with "acting against national security" - a common charge brought against Christians in Iran - and accused of "Zionist" activities and evangelism.

He was given until 31 July 2016 to raise 100 million tomans (US$33,000) for bail or face arrest. Title deeds were submitted to secure his temporary release on bail.

On 6 July 2017, Yousef and the other three men were received confirmation through their lawyer that they had been sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on account of house-church activities and "promoting Zionist Christianity".

In addition, Yousef was sentenced to two years’ exile in Nik Shahr and Youhan Omidi was sentenced to two years’ exile in Borazjan. These locations are a great distance from their families and this decision represents a further cruel injustice against these men – on top of the unusually severe jail sentences.

On 13 December, Yousef, Mohammed Reza, Yasser and Saheb attended their appeal hearing at the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, under infamous judges Hassan Babaei and Ahmad Zargar. On 2 May 2018, Iranian authorities notified their lawyer that their appeal was unsuccessful and the 10-year prison sentences were upheld.

The violent arrest of Yousef on 22 July was reported widely in the press. Around 10 police officers arrived at the house and physically assaulted the pastor’s son when he opened the door to them. Both Yousef and his son were tasered, despite offering no resistance. The manner of their arrest can be interpreted as an attempt to intimidate the Christian community.

In June 2020, at a retrial, Yousef and Zaman's sentences were reduced to six years, and Youhan's to two. But both Yousef and Youhan still face exile following their release.

Saheb Fadaie

On 13 May 2016, Zaman (Saheb) was arrested along with Mohammad Reza (Youhan) Omidi, Mohammad Ali (Yasser) Mossayebzadeh, and Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and his wife Tina. Saheb and some of the others were detained for two weeks and released after posting bail of 100 million tomans (US$33,000) each.

On 10 September 2016, Saheb, Youhan and Yasser were summoned to Rasht Criminal Court to face charges of drinking wine during Communion. Drinking alcohol is not illegal for Christians in Iran, but under applicable Islamic law it is prohibited for Muslims. The three men were sentenced to 80 lashes each, which Youhan and Saheb received in October and November 2020.

On 6 July 2017, Saheb, Youhan, Yousef and Yasser were informed that they had been sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on account of house-church activities and "promoting Zionist Christianity".

On 13 December, the four men attended the appeal hearing at the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, under judges Hassan Babaei and Ahmad Zargar. On 2 May 2018, Iranian authorities notified their lawyer that the appeal was unsuccessful and the 10-year prison sentences were upheld.

On 24 July, Saheb and Youhan were arrested at their homes and taken to Evin Prison, Tehran. Yasser was arrested and taken to prison on 25 July. Normally in Iran, once a prison sentence is upheld in the appeal courts, an official summons is issued for the prison sentence to start. None of the men had received such a summons before their arrest.

On 22 September 2018 Saheb received another 18-month prison sentence for "spreading propaganda against the regime".

In June 2020, at a retrial, Saheb and Yousef's sentences were reduced to six years, and Youhan's to two.

Youhan Omidi

On 13 May 2016, Mohammad Reza (Youhan) Omidi was arrested along with Zaman (Saheb) Fadaie, Mohammad Ali (Yasser) Mossayebzadeh, and Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and his wife Tina. Youhan and some of the others were detained for two weeks and released after posting bail of 100 million tomans (US$33,000) each.

On 10 September 2016, Yousef, Saheb and Yasser were summoned to Rasht Criminal Court to face charges of drinking wine during Communion. Drinking alcohol is not illegal for Christians in Iran, but under applicable Islamic law it is prohibited for Muslims. The three men were sentenced to 80 lashes each, which Youhan and Saheb received in October and November 2020.

On 6 July 2017, Youhan, Yousef, Saheb and Yasser were sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on account of house-church activities and "promoting Zionist Christianity".

In addition, Youhan was sentenced to two years’ exile in Borazjan and Pastor Yousef was sentenced to two years’ exile in Nik Shahr. These locations are a great distance from their families and this decision represents a further cruel injustice against these men – on top of the unusually severe jail sentences.

On 13 December, all four men attended the appeal hearing at the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, under judges Hassan Babaei and Ahmad Zargar. On 2 May 2018, Iranian authorities notified their lawyer that the appeal was unsuccessful and the 10-year prison sentences were upheld.

On 24 July, Mohammed Reza and Zaman were arrested at their homes and taken to Evin Prison, Tehran. Yasser was arrested and taken to prison on 25 July. Normally in Iran, once a prison sentence is upheld in the appeal courts, an official summons is issued for the prison sentence to start. None of the men had received such a summons before their arrest.

In June 2020, at a retrial, Yousef and Saheb's sentences were reduced to six years, and Youhan's to two. Youhan was released in September 2020, but is now serving two years in internal exile.

Mehdi Akbari

Mehdi (Yasser) Akbari was arrested alongside fellow Christian converts Fatemeh Sharifi, Simin Soheilinia and Mehdi Roohparvar during coordinated raids on their homes by intelligence agents in January 2019 in the Ariashahr area of Tehran.

They were then all transferred to Evin Prison, where they were placed in solitary confinement and interrogated for 30 days, before being released on bail of 800 million tomans ($62,500 at the time) on 18 March 2019.

They were tried on 16 June 2020 at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on charges of “acting against national security” and “forming an illegal evangelical Christian group”.

Four months later they were sentenced at the same branch - Yasser, Fatemeh and Simin were given 10-year sentences, and Mehdi Roohparvar five.

The judge, Mohammad Moghiseh, spoke obscenely to the Christians and would not listen to their defence, only citing the report of the intelligence agent.

He then increased their bail to 7 billion tomans ($220,000).

The two women were later freed on bail, but the men were transferred to Evin Prison and their sentences were communicated to them there on 17 October 2020.

They have appealed.

Mehdi Rokhparvar

Mehdi Rokhparvar was arrested alongside fellow Christian converts Fatemeh Sharifi, Simin Soheilinia and Mehdi (Yasser) Akbari during coordinated raids on their homes by intelligence agents in January 2019 in the Ariashahr area of Tehran.

They were then all transferred to Evin Prison, where they were placed in solitary confinement and interrogated for 30 days, before being released on bail of 800 million tomans ($62,500 at the time) on 18 March 2019.

They were tried on 16 June 2020 at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on charges of “acting against national security” and “forming an illegal evangelical Christian group”.

Four months later they were sentenced at the same branch - Mehdi to five years, and Fatemeh, Simin and Yasser to 10.

The judge, Mohammad Moghiseh, spoke obscenely to the Christians and would not listen to their defence, only citing the report of the intelligence agent.

He then increased their bail to 7 billion tomans ($220,000).

The two women were later freed on bail, but the men were transferred to Evin Prison and their sentences were communicated to them there on 17 October 2020.

They have appealed.

Abdolreza Ali (Matthias) Haghnejad

Abdolreza Ali (Matthias) Haghnejad and eight other Christian converts from the northern city of Rasht - Hossein Kadivar, Khalil Dehghanpour, Kamal Naamanian, Mohammad Vafadar, Shahrooz Eslamdoust, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi, and Behnam Akhlaghi - were arrested in January and February 2019.

Matthias and Kamal had been arrested before for their Christian activities.

Seven of the men were released on bail in March 2019, but Matthias and Shahrooz were detained.

In July 2019, Matthias, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi had their bail increased tenfold - to the equivalent of $130,000 each - after insisting upon being defended by their own lawyer. Being unable and unprepared to pay such an amount, they were transferred to Ward 4 of Tehran’s Evin Prison, where they have remained.

The other four decided to defend themselves and were therefore released on their pre-existing bail (the equivalent of $13,000 each) until their next hearing, when the judge accused them of promoting Zionism and said the Bible had been falsified.

In October 2019, all nine men were sentenced to five years in prison for “acting against national security”.

Their appeals were rejected following a hearing in February 2020.

Abdolreza, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi have been in Evin Prison since July 2019. The other four men began serving their sentences on 1 June 2020. They had gone to the Revolutionary Court in Rasht a day ahead of their summons deadline of 2 June to ask for a few more days with their families before beginning their sentences. Instead, they were placed in handcuffs and held for five days, before being transferred directly to Evin Prison on Saturday, 6 June, to begin their five-year terms.

Shahrooz Eslamdoost

Shahrooz Eslamdoust and eight other Christian converts from the northern city of Rasht - Abdolreza Ali (Matthias) Haghnejad, Hossein Kadivar, Khalil Dehghanpour, Kamal Naamanian, Mohammad Vafadar, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi, and Behnam Akhlaghi - were arrested in January and February 2019.

Matthias and Kamal had been arrested before for their Christian activities.

Seven of the men were released on bail in March 2019, but Matthias and Shahrooz were detained.

In July 2019, Matthias, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi had their bail increased tenfold - to the equivalent of $130,000 each - after insisting upon being defended by their own lawyer. Being unable and unprepared to pay such an amount, they were transferred to Ward 4 of Tehran’s Evin Prison, where they have remained.

The other four decided to defend themselves and were therefore released on their pre-existing bail (the equivalent of $13,000 each) until their next hearing, when the judge accused them of promoting Zionism and said the Bible had been falsified.

In October 2019, all nine men were sentenced to five years in prison for “acting against national security”.

Their appeals were rejected following a hearing in February 2020.

Abdolreza, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi have been in Evin Prison since July 2019. The other four men began serving their sentences on 1 June 2020. They had gone to the Revolutionary Court in Rasht a day ahead of their summons deadline of 2 June to ask for a few more days with their families before beginning their sentences. Instead, they were placed in handcuffs and held for five days, before being transferred directly to Evin Prison on Saturday, 6 June, to begin their five-year terms.

Behnam Akhlaghi

Behnam Akhlaghi and eight other Christian converts from the northern city of Rasht - Abdolreza Ali (Matthias) Haghnejad, Hossein Kadivar, Khalil Dehghanpour, Kamal Naamanian, Mohammad Vafadar, Shahrooz Eslamdoust, Babak Hosseinzadeh, and Mehdi Khatibi - were arrested in January and February 2019.

Matthias and Kamal had been arrested before for their Christian activities.

Seven of the men were released on bail in March 2019, but Matthias and Shahrooz were detained.

In July 2019, Matthias, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi had their bail increased tenfold - to the equivalent of $130,000 each - after insisting upon being defended by their own lawyer. Being unable and unprepared to pay such an amount, they were transferred to Ward 4 of Tehran’s Evin Prison, where they have remained.

The other four decided to defend themselves and were therefore released on their pre-existing bail (the equivalent of $13,000 each) until their next hearing, when the judge accused them of promoting Zionism and said the Bible had been falsified.

In October 2019, all nine men were sentenced to five years in prison for “acting against national security”.

Their appeals were rejected following a hearing in February 2020.

Abdolreza, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi have been in Evin Prison since July 2019. The other four men began serving their sentences on 1 June 2020. They had gone to the Revolutionary Court in Rasht a day ahead of their summons deadline of 2 June to ask for a few more days with their families before beginning their sentences. Instead, they were placed in handcuffs and held for five days, before being transferred directly to Evin Prison on Saturday, 6 June, to begin their five-year terms.

Babak Hosseinzadeh

Babak Hosseinzadeh and eight other Christian converts from the northern city of Rasht - Abdolreza Ali (Matthias) Haghnejad, Hossein Kadivar, Khalil Dehghanpour, Kamal Naamanian, Mohammad Vafadar, Shahrooz Eslamdoust, Mehdi Khatibi, and Behnam Akhlaghi - were arrested in January and February 2019.

Matthias and Kamal had been arrested before for their Christian activities.

Seven of the men were released on bail in March 2019, but Matthias and Shahrooz were detained.

In July 2019, Matthias, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi had their bail increased tenfold - to the equivalent of $130,000 each - after insisting upon being defended by their own lawyer. Being unable and unprepared to pay such an amount, they were transferred to Ward 4 of Tehran’s Evin Prison, where they have remained.

The other four decided to defend themselves and were therefore released on their pre-existing bail (the equivalent of $13,000 each) until their next hearing, when the judge accused them of promoting Zionism and said the Bible had been falsified.

In October 2019, all nine men were sentenced to five years in prison for “acting against national security”.

Their appeals were rejected following a hearing in February 2020.

Abdolreza, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi have been in Evin Prison since July 2019. The other four men began serving their sentences on 1 June 2020. They had gone to the Revolutionary Court in Rasht a day ahead of their summons deadline of 2 June to ask for a few more days with their families before beginning their sentences. Instead, they were placed in handcuffs and held for five days, before being transferred directly to Evin Prison on Saturday, 6 June, to begin their five-year terms.

Mehdi Khatibi

Mehdi Khatibi and eight other Christian converts from the northern city of Rasht - Abdolreza Ali (Matthias) Haghnejad, Hossein Kadivar, Khalil Dehghanpour, Kamal Naamanian, Mohammad Vafadar, Shahrooz Eslamdoust, Babak Hosseinzadeh, and Behnam Akhlaghi - were arrested in January and February 2019.

Matthias and Kamal had been arrested before for their Christian activities.

Seven of the men were released on bail in March 2019, but Matthias and Shahrooz were detained.

In July 2019, Matthias, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi had their bail increased tenfold - to the equivalent of $130,000 each - after insisting upon being defended by their own lawyer. Being unable and unprepared to pay such an amount, they were transferred to Ward 4 of Tehran’s Evin Prison, where they have remained.

The other four decided to defend themselves and were therefore released on their pre-existing bail (the equivalent of $13,000 each) until their next hearing, when the judge accused them of promoting Zionism and said the Bible had been falsified.

In October 2019, all nine men were sentenced to five years in prison for “acting against national security”.

Their appeals were rejected following a hearing in February 2020.

Abdolreza, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi have been in Evin Prison since July 2019. The other four men began serving their sentences on 1 June 2020. They had gone to the Revolutionary Court in Rasht a day ahead of their summons deadline of 2 June to ask for a few more days with their families before beginning their sentences. Instead, they were placed in handcuffs and held for five days, before being transferred directly to Evin Prison on Saturday, 6 June, to begin their five-year terms.

Khalil Dehghanpoor

Khalil Dehghanpour and eight other Christian converts from the northern city of Rasht - Abdolreza Ali (Matthias) Haghnejad, Hossein Kadivar, Kamal Naamanian, Mohammad Vafadar, Shahrooz Eslamdoust, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi, and Behnam Akhlaghi - were arrested in January and February 2019.

Matthias and Kamal had been arrested before for their Christian activities.

Seven of the men were released on bail in March 2019, but Matthias and Shahrooz were detained.

In July 2019, Matthias, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi had their bail increased tenfold - to the equivalent of $130,000 each - after insisting upon being defended by their own lawyer. Being unable and unprepared to pay such an amount, they were transferred to Ward 4 of Tehran’s Evin Prison, where they have remained.

The other four decided to defend themselves and were therefore released on their pre-existing bail (the equivalent of $13,000 each) until their next hearing, when the judge accused them of promoting Zionism and said the Bible had been falsified.

In October 2019, all nine men were sentenced to five years in prison for “acting against national security”.

Their appeals were rejected following a hearing in February 2020.

Abdolreza, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi have been in Evin Prison since July 2019. The other four men began serving their sentences on 1 June 2020. They had gone to the Revolutionary Court in Rasht a day ahead of their summons deadline of 2 June to ask for a few more days with their families before beginning their sentences. Instead, they were placed in handcuffs and held for five days, before being transferred directly to Evin Prison on Saturday, 6 June, to begin their five-year terms.

Hossein Kadivar

Hossein Kadivar and eight other Christian converts from the northern city of Rasht - Abdolreza Ali (Matthias) Haghnejad, Khalil Dehghanpour, Kamal Naamanian, Mohammad Vafadar, Shahrooz Eslamdoust, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi, and Behnam Akhlaghi - were arrested in January and February 2019.

Matthias and Kamal had been arrested before for their Christian activities.

Seven of the men were released on bail in March 2019, but Matthias and Shahrooz were detained.

In July 2019, Matthias, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi had their bail increased tenfold - to the equivalent of $130,000 each - after insisting upon being defended by their own lawyer. Being unable and unprepared to pay such an amount, they were transferred to Ward 4 of Tehran’s Evin Prison, where they have remained.

The other four decided to defend themselves and were therefore released on their pre-existing bail (the equivalent of $13,000 each) until their next hearing, when the judge accused them of promoting Zionism and said the Bible had been falsified.

In October 2019, all nine men were sentenced to five years in prison for “acting against national security”.

Their appeals were rejected following a hearing in February 2020.

Abdolreza, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi have been in Evin Prison since July 2019. The other four men began serving their sentences on 1 June 2020. They had gone to the Revolutionary Court in Rasht a day ahead of their summons deadline of 2 June to ask for a few more days with their families before beginning their sentences. Instead, they were placed in handcuffs and held for five days, before being transferred directly to Evin Prison on Saturday, 6 June, to begin their five-year terms.

Kamal Naamanian

Kamal Naamanian and eight other Christian converts from the northern city of Rasht - Abdolreza Ali (Matthias) Haghnejad, Hossein Kadivar, Khalil Dehghanpour, Mohammad Vafadar, Shahrooz Eslamdoust, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi, and Behnam Akhlaghi - were arrested in January and February 2019.

Matthias and Kamal had been arrested before for their Christian activities.

Seven of the men were released on bail in March 2019, but Matthias and Shahrooz were detained.

In July 2019, Matthias, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi had their bail increased tenfold - to the equivalent of $130,000 each - after insisting upon being defended by their own lawyer. Being unable and unprepared to pay such an amount, they were transferred to Ward 4 of Tehran’s Evin Prison, where they have remained.

The other four decided to defend themselves and were therefore released on their pre-existing bail (the equivalent of $13,000 each) until their next hearing, when the judge accused them of promoting Zionism and said the Bible had been falsified.

In October 2019, all nine men were sentenced to five years in prison for “acting against national security”.

Their appeals were rejected following a hearing in February 2020.

Abdolreza, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi have been in Evin Prison since July 2019. The other four men began serving their sentences on 1 June 2020. They had gone to the Revolutionary Court in Rasht a day ahead of their summons deadline of 2 June to ask for a few more days with their families before beginning their sentences. Instead, they were placed in handcuffs and held for five days, before being transferred directly to Evin Prison on Saturday, 6 June, to begin their five-year terms.

Mohammad Vafadar

Mohammad Vafadar and eight other Christian converts from the northern city of Rasht - Abdolreza Ali (Matthias) Haghnejad, Hossein Kadivar, Khalil Dehghanpour, Kamal Naamanian, Shahrooz Eslamdoust, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi, and Behnam Akhlaghi - were arrested in January and February 2019.

Matthias and Kamal had been arrested before for their Christian activities.

Seven of the men were released on bail in March 2019, but Matthias and Shahrooz were detained.

In July 2019, Matthias, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi had their bail increased tenfold - to the equivalent of $130,000 each - after insisting upon being defended by their own lawyer. Being unable and unprepared to pay such an amount, they were transferred to Ward 4 of Tehran’s Evin Prison, where they have remained.

The other four decided to defend themselves and were therefore released on their pre-existing bail (the equivalent of $13,000 each) until their next hearing, when the judge accused them of promoting Zionism and said the Bible had been falsified.

In October 2019, all nine men were sentenced to five years in prison for “acting against national security”.

Their appeals were rejected following a hearing in February 2020.

Abdolreza, Shahrooz, Behnam, Babak and Mehdi have been in Evin Prison since July 2019. The other four men began serving their sentences on 1 June 2020. They had gone to the Revolutionary Court in Rasht a day ahead of their summons deadline of 2 June to ask for a few more days with their families before beginning their sentences. Instead, they were placed in handcuffs and held for five days, before being transferred directly to Evin Prison on Saturday, 6 June, to begin their five-year terms.