(Twitter @VP)

US Vice President Mike Pence says he is “appalled” by the one-year jail sentence given to a 65-year-old woman convert to Christianity.

Rokhsareh (Mahrokh) Ghanbari was notified of her sentence on Monday, two days after her appearance at a Revolutionary Court in Karaj. She was convicted of “propaganda against the system”.

Mr. Pence said Mahrokh had been punished “for exercising her freedom to worship”.

He added that the “persecution” of people like Mahrokh and pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz, who is facing a ten-year prison sentence, were “an affront to religious freedom”.

Mahrokh was arrested just before Christmas 2018 during a raid on her home in Karaj. She was then detained and interrogated from morning until evening for ten days, before being released on a bail of 30 million tomans (around $2,500).

In January, she was forced to visit an Islamic cleric to receive religious “instruction” and be offered the chance to reconvert to Islam.

Victor Bet-Tamraz was arrested during a raid on his home while celebrating Christmas in 2014. He was later charged with “conducting evangelism” and “illegal house-church activities”, and other charges amounting to “acting against national security”, and sentenced to ten years in prison.

Victor’s wife, Shamiram Issavi, was later interrogated and charged with “membership of a group with the purpose of disrupting national security” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, and sentenced to five years in prison.

Their son, Ramil, was then among a group of five Christians arrested during a picnic gathering in Tehran in August 2016. He was later sentenced to four months in prison for “acting against national security” and “organising and establishing house churches”, then released owing to time already served.

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