Converts begin six-month jail sentences

Converts begin six-month jail sentences

Asghar Salehi (left) and Mohammad Reza Rezaei (Middle East Concern)

Three Christian converts have begun six-month jail sentences after they were convicted earlier this year of “propaganda against the system through promoting Zionist Christianity”.

Asghar Salehi, Mohammad Reza Rezaei and another convert whose name has not been made public are now serving their sentences in Eqlid Prison in Fars Province, having failed with their appeals.

Middle East Concern reports that Asghar was arrested at his workplace on 12 December and that all three Christians are now in Eqlid Prison.

The charity said the Christians are “thankful that they are being held in the part of the prison with a yard and access to fresh air, but are concerned for the welfare of their families”.

The three men were informed of their sentences on 22 September 2019, following a hearing at Branch 101 of the criminal court in Eqlid a week prior.

They were arrested, alongside four others, during raids on their homes in September 2018.

Following their arrests, Asghar was interrogated for three days, during which he was kept blindfolded for most of the time, then taken to Eqlid Prison for a further eight days. He was then released on bail after providing his business license as a guarantee.

The three men were then brought before Branch 101 of Eqlid Criminal Court in April 2019 and charged under Article 500 of the penal code, which provides for up to a year’s imprisonment for anyone found guilty of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran or support of opposition groups and associations”.

Asghar was refused permission to speak during the hearing, warned that he was being monitored and told not to engage in any further Christian activities. He was also reported to be suffering from “potentially serious health issues”.