Christian convert’s bail increased tenfold

Christian convert’s bail increased tenfold

A 65-year-old convert to Christianity had his bail increased tenfold at a court hearing in Shiraz last week.

Esmaeil Maghrebinezhad was charged with “propaganda against the state and insulting the sacred Iranian establishment” following his arrest at his home on 25 January. 

At the hearing on 22 October at Enghelab Court in Shiraz, the judge asked him two questions: whether he was an apostate; and whether he had insulted Islam.

He denied both, saying that he had never insulted Islam and that different ayatollahs had different opinions over the question of apostasy.

In response, the judge decreed that his bail would be increased from 10 million to 100 million tomans (around $9,000).

When Esmaeil said he had no way of paying such an amount, the judge said a friend could act as a guarantor. Two of Esmaeil’s friends then provided payslips to the court as proof that they could cover the amount if required. 

Yesterday morning, Esmaeil was summoned to the court, but the hearing was later postponed to the morning of Saturday, 2 November.

Esmaeil with daughter Mahsa and son-in-law Nathan

As Article18 reported in August, Esmaeil’s daughter, Mahsa, who is now living in the United States, believes her family and that of her husband, Vahid Roufegarbashi, are being targeted because of the couple’s continued role as pastors ministering to Christians in Iran via the Internet. 

Vahid, who prefers to be known as Nathan, told Article18 that his parents continue to be visited regularly by Iranian police officers, who say both that they are looking for Nathan and also that they know he is living in America. The last such visit took place on 28 October.

Nathan says his parents continue to be targeted even though the court seized all of his $18,000 bail after he fled the country following his arrest in July 2011 for handing out Christian literature. 

Nathan had also been warned that the Tehran branch of the Ministry of Intelligence wanted to interrogate him at the city’s notorious Evin Prison about his Internet ministry to other Christians in Iran. He was later sentenced, in absentia, to one year in prison.