Wife of imprisoned pastor charged with ‘disturbing public opinion’

Wife of imprisoned pastor charged with ‘disturbing public opinion’

The wife of a pastor serving a six-year prison sentence for “propagating Christianity” now faces her own charges of “propaganda against the state” and “disturbing public opinion”.

Anahita Khademi, who is married to Abdolreza (Matthias) Ali-Haghnejad, was informed of the charges ahead of her release on bail last Saturday, 28 January.

She was arrested on 3 January, a week after the arrest of her husband and two church members at a Christmas gathering in their home city of Bandar Anzali, in north Iran.

Anahita spent more than three weeks in detention in Lakan Prison in nearby Rasht, before her release on bail equivalent to $4,000.

The other two men, whose first names are Amir and Masoud, have also been released on bail, though it is not yet known whether they face the same charges.

Meanwhile, Matthias, who had been on a long furlough from prison before his re-arrest, is now back in Anzali Prison, serving a sentence he first received back in 2012.

Matthias was actually acquitted in 2014, but in January 2022, after his release from a separate five-year prison sentence on the same charge – as part of an historic Supreme Court ruling involving eight other “Church of Iran” members – a different Supreme Court judge overturned his first acquittal and ordered his re-arrest.

The pastor, who is from the “Church of Iran” denomination, has been arrested on numerous occasions, dating back to 2006. 

Anahita has also been arrested before and was among 11 converts charged more than a decade ago with “apostasy”, before their acquittal following two fatwas by leading ayatollahs Safi Golpaygani and Yousef Saanei.

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