Christian convert’s appeal rejected, summoned to serve sentence

Christian convert’s appeal rejected, summoned to serve sentence

Iranian Christian convert Hamed Ashoori has been summoned to begin his 10-month prison sentence for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”, after his appeal was rejected.

The 31-year-old, who lives in Fardis, west of Tehran, received a message on Saturday, 26 June – the same day his appeal was rejected – telling him he had 10 days to submit himself to the prison authorities in Karaj to begin his sentence.

Hamed was sentenced in April 2021, following a final court hearing a month earlier at the 4th Branch of the Revolutionary Court in Karaj.

The case against Hamed, which was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, actually dates back to February 2019, though it was not reported until his sentencing earlier this year.

Hamed was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents as he left his home on the morning of 23 February 2019.

The intelligence agents proceeded to raid his home and confiscate all Christian items, including Bibles and other literature, as well as computer hard drives. 

He was then taken to Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj, where he was held in solitary confinement for 10 days, before being transferred to Ghezel Hesar Prison, also in Karaj, for another two days.

During interrogations, Hamed was offered a large monthly salary if he “cooperated” by becoming an informant against other Christians.

When he refused, he was beaten. 

Hamed was finally released on bail after submitting guarantees in the form of payslips.

Hamed and another family member were then forced to attend “re-education” sessions with an Islamic cleric.

After four such sessions, Hamed refused to participate in any more, and it was then that the court proceedings against him began.

There are currently at least 20 Iranian Christians either serving prison sentences or living in enforced internal exile as a result of trumped-up charges related to the peaceful practice of their faith.