Christian convert sentenced to five years in prison

Christian convert sentenced to five years in prison

A Christian convert who was detained for over four months following his arrest on Christmas Eve has been sentenced to five years in prison for “acting against national security by communicating with Christian ‘Zionist’ organisations”.

Esmaeil Narimanpour, who was previously forced to undergo religious “re-education”, was sentenced on 28 May at the third branch of the Revolutionary Court in Ahvaz, western Iran, by Judge Mehdi Fathinia, according to the Persian-language website Mohabat News.

The 37-year-old, who has 20 days to appeal, was one of nearly 50 Christians arrested over the Christmas period in a new rash of arrests.

His home in Dezful, 150km north of Ahvaz, was searched and his Christian books were confiscated, though the arresting agents did not have a warrant. He was then transferred to a detention centre belonging to the Ministry of Intelligence in Ahvaz, where he spent 18 days, before being sent to Shiban Prison.

Esmaeil was able to call his family briefly on Christmas Day to tell them that he was being held somewhere in Ahvaz, but when his wife and brother went to follow up on his case, they were themselves questioned and detained for several hours.

Esmaeil was finally released on $10,000 bail on 30 April, but now awaits a summons to begin his sentence.

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