Adopt a Prisoner

Give Hope!

"Remember those in prison as you where 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 that they need to persevere through their trial.

Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz

On 26th December 2014, plain-clothed security officers raided Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz's house during a Christmas celebration and temporarily arrested all in attendance. The authorities separated men from women and searched them bodily, seizing all Bibles, cell phones, and identifying documents. Pastor Victor, an Assyrian Christian and two Christian converts were detained. 

Following Pastor Victor's arrest, his wife Mrs. Shamiram Isavi Khabizeh, was ordered to meet with officers of the Intelligence and National Security Organization. She was questioned and interrogated for several hours. She was told to provide information concerning their church, house group activities, names of believers etc.

Pastor Victor was charged verbally with ‘conducting evangelism’ and illegal house church activities among other charges that amount to the charge of “acting against national security”. He was released on bail (approx. $110.000) on 1st March 2015. 

On 26th August 2016, security officials from the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) raided a picnic in Firuzkuh in the Alborz Mountains, north-east of Tehran. The group of Christians were in the area for a fishing trip. Mr Ramiel Bet Tamraz, son of pastor Victor Bet Tamraz and Mrs. Shamiram Isavi Khabizeh, was one of those arrested and detained in Evin Prison for several weeks.

Mr. Ramiel Bet Tamraz was initially charged with supporting the ministry of his father, Pastor Victor, and conducting illegal house meetings. Following a hearing on 18th June 2018, he received the judge’s verdict on 11th July 2018. Mr. Ramiel Bet Tamraz was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment for ‘propaganda against the state’ by joining a house church.

Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz was summoned to a first appeal hearing on 25th April. The two judges present allowed the defendant and his lawyer to present his defence, but they informed him that there will probably be two further hearings. A further hearing is scheduled for 23rd January 2019.

Shamiram Isavi Khabizeh

Mrs. Shamiram Isavi Khabizeh is married to Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz. She was summoned to Evin Detention Centre, Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on Sunday, 19th June 2017. She was formally charged with participating in foreign seminars and gatherings as well as acting against Iranian national security by being a member of the church. She was released after one day on a 100 Million Toman bail (approximately USD $30,000).

Mrs. Shamiram had not been arrested or charged by the authorities in the past. She was called to attend a hearing on Monday, 31st July 2017, in Tehran at the 26th Branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Court. The judge was Mr. Ahmadzadeh. The hearing took place on 12th December 2017 and the verdict was delivered on 6th January 2018. Mrs. Shamiram was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on charges of action against national security, attending a foreign seminary and training church leaders to act against the regime.

There was a preliminary appeal hearing on 9th May 2018, but the judge spoke disrespectfully, making unsubstantiated claims against the family and would not allow Mrs. Shamiram to speak in her defence.

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. Mr. Firouzi’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. Mr. Firouzi was tried unfairly without access to a lawyer.

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

The charges brought against Mr. Firouzi involved “establishing and managing a website about Christianity, receiving and distributing Bibles, cooperating with student activists and acting against national security”. On 6th July 2013, Mr. Firouzi 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 15th 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, Baluchestan.

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

Mr. Firouzi was due to be released on 13th January 2015 after completing his prison

sentence. However, he remained detained, he was re-tried on 5th March 2015 and charged with “acting against national security, gathering, and collusion”. At the end of April 2015, Mr. Firouzi was sentenced to five years in prison. Mr. Firouzi appealed the sentence unsuccessfully on 11th December 2016 and his original sentence was upheld. 

Mr. Firouzi has not committed any crime against the Islamic Republic of Iran and he is calling for the Iranian regime to release him immediately and unconditionally.

Naser Navard Goltapeh

Mr Naser Navard Goltapeh was arrested on 24th June 2016 at a private gathering along with three believers from the “Word of Life” church in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani believers arrested were identified as 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 for “illegal gathering and collusion against the Islamic regime through evangelism”.

Mr Naser Navard Goltapeh and the Azerbaijani Christians were temporarily released on bail of approximately US$35,000 each on 29th 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 23rd May 2017 Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh sentenced him (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 Mr Navard Goltapeh’s attorney to review. The verdict was upheld in an appeal hearing on 12th November 2017 and Mr Navard Goltapeh 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.

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani

On 13th May 2016, Pastor Nadarkhani and his wife were arrested along with Mohammadreza Omidi, Yasser Mossayebzadeh and Saheb Fadaie. Pastor and Mrs. Nadarkhani were released on the same day.

On 24th July 2016, Pastor Nadarkhani 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.

Pastor Nadarkhani was given until 31st July 2016 to raise 100 million Toman (US$33,000) bail or face arrest. Title deeds were submitted to secure his liberty.

On 6th July 2017, the lawyer for the defence received the verdict stating that the four men were sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on account of house church activities and ‘promoting Zionist Christianity’. Converts from Islam are forbidden from attending recognised churches belonging to the Christian minorities and gather in unofficial “house churches”. In addition, Pastor Nadarkhani was sentenced to two years’ exile in Nik Shahr and Mr. 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. The lawyer then appealed against the verdict.

On 13th December, Pastor Nadarkhani, Mr. Omidi, Mr. Mossayebzadeh and Mr. Fadaei attended the appeal hearing at the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. The judges present were Mr. Babaei and Mr. Zargar. On 2nd May 2018, Iranian authorities notified their lawyer that the appeal was unsuccessful and the ten-year prison sentences were upheld.

The violent arrest of Pastor Nadarkhani on 22nd July has been reported widely in the press. Around ten police officers arrived at the house and physically assaulted Pastor Nadarkhani's son when he opened the door to them. Both Pastor Nadarkhani 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.

Saheb (Zaman) Fadaie Siyah-Estelkhi

On 13th May 2016, Mr Saheb Fadaie was arrested along with Pastor Nadarkhani and his wife, Mr Mohammadreza Omidi, and Me. Yasser Mossayebzadeh. Mr. Fadaie and other was detained for two weeks and released after posting bail of 100 million Toman (US$33,000) each.

On 10th September 2016, Mr. Fadaie, Mr. Omidi, and Mr. Mossayebzadeh were summoned to Rasht Criminal Court to face charges of drinking wine at 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 receive eighty lashes each. They are appealing this decision and they await a verdict on their appeal.

On 6th July 2017, the lawyer for the defence received the verdict stating that the four men were sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on account of house church activities and ‘promoting Zionist Christianity’. Converts from Islam are forbidden from attending recognised churches belonging to the Christian minorities and gather in unofficial “house churches”. The lawyer then appealed against the verdict.

On 13th December, Mr. Fadaei, Pastor Nadarkhani, Mr. Omidi, and Mr. Mossayebzadeh attended the appeal hearing at the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. The judges present were Mr. Babaei and Mr. Zargar. On 2nd May 2018, Iranian authorities notified their lawyer that the appeal was unsuccessful and the ten-year prison sentences were upheld.

On 24th July, Mr. Fadaei, and Mr. Omidi were arrested at their homes and taken to Evin Prison, Tehran. Mr. Mossayebzadeh was arrested and taken to prison on the 25th July. Normally in Iran, once a prison sentence is upheld in the appeal courts, an officials summons is issued for the prison sentence to start. None of the men had received such a summons before their arrest.
On 22nd September 2018 Mr. Fadaei received another 18-month prison sentence for "spreading propaganda against the regime".

Mohammadreza Omidi

On 13th May 2016, Mr Mohammadreza Omidi, was arrested along with Pastor Nadarkhani and his wife, Mr Saheb Fadaie and Mr Yasser Mossayebzadeh. Mr. Omidi, and some of the others were detained for two weeks and released after posting bail of 100 million Toman (US$33,000) each.

On 10th September 2016, Mr. Omidi, Mr. Fadaie and Mr. Mossayebzadeh were summoned to Rasht Criminal Court to face charges of drinking wine at 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 receive eighty lashes each. They are appealing this decision and they await a verdict on their appeal.

On 6th July 2017, the lawyer for the defence received the verdict stating that the four men were sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on account of house church activities and ‘promoting Zionist Christianity’. Converts from Islam are forbidden from attending recognised churches belonging to the Christian minorities and gather in unofficial “house churches”. In addition, Mr. Omidi was sentenced to two years’ exile in Borazjan and Pastor Nadarkhani 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. The lawyer then appealed against the verdict.

On 13th December, Mr. Omidi, Pastor Nadarkhani, Mr. Fadaei and Mr. Mossayebzadeh attended the appeal hearing at the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. The judges present were Mr. Babaei and Mr. Zargar. On 2nd May 2018, Iranian authorities notified their lawyer that the appeal was unsuccessful and the ten-year prison sentences were upheld.

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