Lawyer of imprisoned Christian asks what danger his client’s release would pose

Lawyer of imprisoned Christian asks what danger his client’s release would pose

The lawyer of a Christian convert who has spent nearly four years in prison for “acting against national security” by being part of a house-church has asked what danger the release of his 60-year-old client could pose.

Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh is one of the longest serving Christian prisoners of conscience, having begun his 10-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison on 20 January 2018.

Since then, he has petitioned on numerous occasions for a retrial or conditional release, but on every occasion has been rejected, despite emotional pleas from his elderly mother to see her son again.

His lawyer, Iman Soleimani, submitted yet another petition for a retrial earlier this week, and told Article18 that none of the charges for which his client was sentenced to 10 years in prison had been substantiated.

Mr Soleimani added that he had based his new petition on the recent ruling of the Supreme Court, which found that nine Christian converts sentenced to five years in prison should not have been convicted of “actions against national security”. 

Mr Soleimani also referenced the recent decision of a prosecutor in Dezful not to charge eight converts with “propaganda”, ruling that “they have merely converted to a different religion and have not carried out any propaganda against another group”.

The lawyer also expressed concern about the health of his client.

In a message from prison at Christmas, Nasser said he hoped “this year’s Christmas gift from God to all the persecuted Christians will be freedom and dignity”.

He added: “I cannot say that everything is fine, because the situation is getting worse every day. Our days here are repetitive. 

“But in spite of all this, God has given me peace in my heart … and I am still joyful in the Lord, even if there aren’t many obvious reasons to rejoice, or even if the situation gets much worse than this.”