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.

Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz

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

Following Pastor Victor's arrest, his wife, Shamiram Issavi, was ordered to meet with officers of the Intelligence and National Security Organisation. 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 1 March 2015. 

On 26 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. Ramil Bet-Tamraz, son of pastor Victor and Shamiram Issavi, was one of those arrested and detained in Evin Prison for several weeks.

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

Pastor Victor was summoned to a first appeal hearing on 25 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.

Shamiram Issavi

Shamiram Issavi is married to Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz. She was summoned to Evin Detention Centre, Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on Sunday, 19 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 a house-church. She was released after one day on a 100 million toman bail (approximately USD $30,000).

Shamiram had not been arrested or charged by the authorities in the past. She was called to attend a hearing on Monday 31 July 2017 in Tehran at the 26th Branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Court. The judge was Mashallah Ahmadzadeh. The hearing took place on 12 December 2017 and the verdict was delivered on 6 January 2018. 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 9 May 2018, but the judge spoke disrespectfully, making unsubstantiated claims against the family and would not allow Shamiram to speak in her defence. Further appeal hearings have been scheduled then postponed.

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 now faces two years in exile.

Nasser Navard Goltapeh

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.

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani

On 13 May 2016, Pastor Yousef and his wife were arrested along with Mohammad Reza Omidi, Yasser Mossayebzadeh and Zaman 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 liberty.

On 6 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, Yousef was sentenced to two years’ exile in Nik Shahr and Mohammed Reza 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 13 December, Yousef, Mohammed Reza, Yasser and Saheb attended the appeal hearing at the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. The judges present were Mr. Hassan Babaei and Ahmad Zargar. On 2 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 Yousef on 22 July has been reported widely in the press. Around ten police officers arrived at the house and physically assaulted the pastor’s son when he opened the door to them. Both Pastor 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.

Saheb (Zaman) Fadaie Siyah-Estelkhi

On 13 May 2016, Zaman was arrested along with Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and his wife, Mohammad Reza Omidi, and Yasser Mossayebzadeh. Zaman 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, Zaman, Mohammed Reza 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 receive 80 lashes each. They are appealing this decision and they await a verdict on their appeal.

On 6 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 13 December, the four men attended the appeal hearing at the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. The judges present were Hassan Babaei and Ahmad Zargar. On 2 May 2018, Iranian authorities notified their lawyer that the appeal was unsuccessful and the ten-year prison sentences were upheld.

On 24 July, Zaman and Mohammed Reza 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 Zaman received another 18-month prison sentence for "spreading propaganda against the regime".

Mohammad Reza Omidi

On 13 May 2016, Mohammad Reza was arrested along with Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and his wife, Zaman Fadaie and Yasser Mossayebzadeh. Mohammed Reza 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, Mohammed Reza, Zaman 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 receive 80 lashes each. They are appealing this decision and they await a verdict on their appeal.

On 6 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, Mohammed Reza 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. The lawyer then appealed against the verdict.

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