Imprisoned Christian convert needs psychological care, mother says

Imprisoned Christian convert needs psychological care, mother says

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A Christian convert and former asylum-seeker serving a two-year sentence in Evin Prison for “connecting with ‘Zionist’ Christian organisations” is struggling with her mental health and in need of professional help, her mother says.

According to the Persian-language site Human Rights in Iran, Laleh Saati’s mother recently visited her prison and observed that her daughter was struggling with the pressure she has been placed under since being detained three months ago, and needs psychological support.

Laleh’s mother is also reported to have asked the Revolutionary Court judge who sentenced her, Iman Afshari, whether he might reduce her daughter’s sentence, only to be told that she must wait for the result of her appeal.

Laleh, who is 45 years old, was arrested in February and sentenced a month later at the 26th branch of the Tehran Revolutionary Court by Judge Afshari, who reportedly asked her why she had returned to Iran from Malaysia, where she had sought asylum, and thereby risked a court case being opened against her.

Laleh was baptised in a church in Malaysia during her time there, a fact which appears to have been referenced in her charge of “connecting with ‘Zionist’ Christian organisations”.

Article18’s Mansour Borji said “Laleh’s case clearly shows that the Christian activities of asylum-seekers in foreign countries can be used against them in court proceedings back in Iran”.

He added: “I hope immigration authorities around the world will take note of this, and think twice before rejecting out of hand the asylum claims of genuine Christians who may face persecution upon return to their country of origin.”

Laleh returned to Iran in 2017, having reportedly grown frustrated at the time it had taken to process her asylum claim, and also to be reunited with her elderly parents.

She was reportedly summoned and interrogated by intelligence agents on numerous occasions after her return, before finally being arrested in February at her father’s home in Ekbatan Town, a suburb of Tehran. 

Laleh was then reportedly taken to Ward 209 of Evin Prison, which is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Intelligence, and interrogated multiple times over three weeks – during which time photographs and videos of her Christian activities and baptism in Malaysia were brought before her as evidence of her “crime” – before being transferred to the women’s ward of the prison.

On 16 March, she was brought before Judge Afshari at the 26th branch of the Revolutionary Court, and a week later she was informed of her sentence, which also includes a two-year travel ban.

Article18’s Mansour Borji said he was “surprised” at the speed with which her case had progressed through the courts.

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