Three more members of the imprisoned pastor Yousef Nadarkhani’s “Church of Iran” group in Rasht have been arrested and taken to an unknown location.
Kamal Naamanian, Mohammed Vafada and Shahrooz Eslamdoost – all converts to Christianity – were arrested on Friday, 15 February, at a “house-church” gathering.
Their arrests follow those of fellow converts Abdolreza Ali Haghnejad, Hossein Kadivar and Khalil Dehghanpour – all within the last month.
Abdolreza was arrested on 10 February during a raid on his home. Hossein and Khalil were detained two weeks earlier during a raid on the “house-church” meeting they were leading, in Yousef’s absence, on 29 January. Officers from the Ministry of Intelligence scaled the wall of the property where the service was being held, arrested Hossein and Khalil, and threatened all other attendees, confiscating their ID cards and mobile phones.
Meanwhile, Yousef’s wife, Fatemeh, has been told she will be arrested if she leaves Gilan Province, according to HRANA.
All six arrested Christians are members of Yousef’s church, who were helping to lead services in his absence. Two of them – Abdolreza and Kamal – have been arrested before for their Christian activities.
Yousef and three other church members – Saheb (Zaman) Fadaee, Mohammad Ali Mosayebzadeh, and Mohammad Reza Omidi – are currently serving ten-year jail sentences for “acting against national security” by “promoting Zionist Christianity” and running “house-churches”. They were sentenced in July 2017 and taken to serve their sentences a year later, in July 2018, after violent raids on their homes, having received no warning, nor summons.
Yousef previously spent nearly three years in prison after he was sentenced to death for apostasy in 2010. He was acquitted of the charge in September 2012.