Maryam Naghash Zargaran begins four-year sentence

Maryam Naghash Zargaran begins four-year sentence

Maryam (Nasim) Naghash Zargaran has been taken to Evin Prison to begin her four-year sentence for “propaganda against the Islamic regime and collusion intended to harm national security by expanding ‘house churches’”.

Nasim was first arrested in December 2012, and interrogated for three days. While she was detained, her home was raided and all books and pamphlets relating to Christianity were confiscated.

Her case was then referred to the Islamic Revolutionary Court, and she was transferred to Evin Prison. 

After 19 days, she was released on bail after submitting 70 million tomans for bail.

Despite much hope that she would be acquitted, Nasim was sentenced to four years in prison on 9 March 2013. Her appeal was rejected, and on 24 July she was taken to Evin Prison to serve her sentence.

The judges in her case were Mohammad Moghiseh, the head of Branch 28 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court, Judge Pir Abbasi and Judge Salavati – all of whom are known for their violations of human rights. 

Judge Moghiseh in particular is known for having imposed heavy sentences on social activists after the 2009 presidential election.

The case against Nasim centred on:

* Her change of religion from Islam to Protestant Christianity

* Her active membership in ‘house churches’

* Setting up churches to attract young people to Christianity

* Communicating with Christian organisations abroad to promote Christianity

* Travel to Turkey to attend Christian gatherings

The verdict stated that she had acted “in line with the United Kingdom and Israel’s anti-security agenda to spread Christianity in Iran in order to pervert Iranian society away from Islam”. 

She was convicted under articles 610 and 46 of the Islamic Penal Code.

In his third report last year, Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, referred to the arbitrary detention of more than 300 Iranian Christians, noting that arrested converts were pressured to leave Christianity.

Currently, at least 43 Christians, including 11 women, are in prison in Iran because of their religious activities.

Farshid Fathi, Saeed Abedini and Mostafa Bordbar are among the other Christian prisoners currently in Evin Prison, serving sentences of six, eight and ten years, respectively. Their cases were also presided over by Judge Salavati and Judge Pir Abbasi.