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.

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 Roohparvar

Mehdi Roohparvar 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

Matthias 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.

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.

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.

In November 2021, the Supreme Court ordered a review of their case, ruling that: “Merely preaching Christianity, and promoting the ‘Evangelical Zionist sect’, both of which apparently means propagating Christianity through family gatherings [house-churches] is not a manifestation of gathering and collusion to disrupt the security of the country, whether internally or externally.”

The Christians were released a month later, pending the result of the review, and on 28 February 2022 they were all acquitted. However, on 15 January 2022 Matthias had been sent back to prison to serve a previous six-year sentence - of which he had been acquitted seven years previously - following the intervention of a different Supreme Court judge. And on 14 February 2022, Behnam and Babak were handed new charges of "propaganda against the state".

Behnam Akhlaghi

Behnam 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 Abdolreza (Matthias) Ali-Haghnejad - were arrested in January and February 2019.

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.

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.

In November 2021, the Supreme Court ordered a review of their case, ruling that: “Merely preaching Christianity, and promoting the ‘Evangelical Zionist sect’, both of which apparently means propagating Christianity through family gatherings [house-churches] is not a manifestation of gathering and collusion to disrupt the security of the country, whether internally or externally.”

The Christians were released a month later, pending the result of the review, and on 28 February 2022 they were all acquitted. However, on 15 January 2022 Matthias had been sent back to prison to serve a previous six-year sentence - of which he had been acquitted seven years previously - following the intervention of a different Supreme Court judge. And on 14 February 2022, Behnam and Babak were handed new charges of "propaganda against the state".

Babak Hosseinzadeh

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

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.

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.

In November 2021, the Supreme Court ordered a review of their case, ruling that: “Merely preaching Christianity, and promoting the ‘Evangelical Zionist sect’, both of which apparently means propagating Christianity through family gatherings [house-churches] is not a manifestation of gathering and collusion to disrupt the security of the country, whether internally or externally.”

The Christians were released a month later, pending the result of the review, and on 28 February 2022 they were all acquitted. However, on 15 January 2022 Matthias had been sent back to prison to serve a previous six-year sentence - of which he had been acquitted seven years previously - following the intervention of a different Supreme Court judge. And on 14 February 2022, Behnam and Babak were handed new charges of "propaganda against the state".

Amin Khaki

Amin has already spent over two years in prison, serving two separate prison sentences for his Christian faith and activities.

He is now back in prison, serving a new three-year sentence for “engaging in propaganda that educates in a deviant way contrary to the holy religion of Islam” - wording lifted directly from the newly amended Article 500 of the penal code.

This latest sentence came after raids by intelligence agents on the homes of 12 Christian families in Fardis, near Tehran, in November 2020.

None of the Christians were arrested at that time, but many of their personal belongings were confiscated – including phones, laptops, Bibles, Christian literature and anything else to do with Christianity. (The Christian items have not been returned.)

Then in the space of two weeks in January and February 2021, a member of each family was summoned for interrogation and ordered to sign commitments to refrain from meeting together – either in person or online.
In May 2021, Amin and two other Christians were charged, before being released on bail, having been told they must report weekly to the intelligence branch of Iran’s police force for the next six months.

On 26 June the three Christians were sentenced to five years in prison and fined 40 million tomans ($1,800).

On 26 August, they were informed that their appeals had been rejected but their sentences reduced to three years.

They began serving their sentences on 10 November.

Alireza Nourmohammadi

Alireza has already spent four months in prison for his Christian faith and activities.

He is now back in prison, serving a new three-year sentence for “engaging in propaganda that educates in a deviant way contrary to the holy religion of Islam” - wording lifted directly from the newly amended Article 500 of the penal code.

This latest sentence came after raids by intelligence agents on the homes of 12 Christian families in Fardis, near Tehran, in November 2020.

None of the Christians were arrested at that time, but many of their personal belongings were confiscated – including phones, laptops, Bibles, Christian literature and anything else to do with Christianity. (The Christian items have not been returned.)

Then in the space of two weeks in January and February 2021, a member of each family was summoned for interrogation and ordered to sign commitments to refrain from meeting together – either in person or online.

In May 2021, Alireza and two other Christians were charged, before being released on bail, having been told they must report weekly to the intelligence branch of Iran’s police force for the next six months.

On 26 June the three Christians were sentenced to five years in prison and fined 40 million tomans ($1,800).

On 26 August, they were informed that their appeals had been rejected but their sentences reduced to three years.

They began serving their sentences on 10 November.

Milad Goodarzi

Milad has already spent four months in prison for his Christian faith and activities.

He is now back in prison, serving a new three-year sentence for “engaging in propaganda that educates in a deviant way contrary to the holy religion of Islam” - wording lifted directly from the newly amended Article 500 of the penal code.

This latest sentence came after raids by intelligence agents on the homes of 12 Christian families in Fardis, near Tehran, in November 2020.

None of the Christians were arrested at that time, but many of their personal belongings were confiscated – including phones, laptops, Bibles, Christian literature and anything else to do with Christianity. (The Christian items have not been returned.)

Then in the space of two weeks in January and February 2021, a member of each family was summoned for interrogation and ordered to sign commitments to refrain from meeting together – either in person or online.

In May 2021, Milad and two other Christians were charged, before being released on bail, having been told they must report weekly to the intelligence branch of Iran’s police force for the next six months.

On 26 June the three Christians were sentenced to five years in prison and fined 40 million tomans ($1,800).

On 26 August, they were informed that their appeals had been rejected but their sentences reduced to three years.

They began serving their sentences on 10 November.

Moslem Rahimi

Hadi (Moslem) Rahimi was arrested in February 2020 alongside his aunt, Sakine (Mehri) Behjati, and fellow Christian converts Ramin Hassanpour and wife Kathrin (Saeede) Sajadpour.

On 14 May 2020, they were taken to Lakan Prison after being unable to afford the bail set for them – of 500 million tomans (around $30,000) by Branch 10 of the Revolutionary Court in Rasht.

They were released a week later on reduced bail of 200 million tomans ($11,500).

On 1 August 2020, the Christians were sentenced to between two and five years in prison for “acting against national security” by belonging to a house-church and “spreading Zionist Christianity”.

Ramin was given a five-year sentence, Moslem four years, and Mehri and Saeede two years.

Their appeals were rejected in September 2020.

On 9 January 2022, Moslem left behind his nine-month-old daughter to begin serving his four-year sentence at Tehran’s Evin Prison so that the property deed submitted by a friend to secure his bail may be released.

A month later, the three other Christians were told they must hand themselves in to the authorities in Tehran by the end of February.

On 16 February 2022, Moslem and Mehri were told their applications for a retrial had been rejected by Branch 9 of the Supreme Court.