Witness Statements

Ehsan Khoshgoo

Ehsan Khoshgoo

For a summary of Ehsan’s story, you can read our feature article here.


1. My name is Ehsan Khoshgoo. I was born in 1991 in Kermanshah [western Iran] and grew up in Tehran and Karaj. I studied physical education at Rajai University [in Karaj] and was employed by an estate agency called Mirdamad. I was 19 years old when a friend spoke to me about Christianity and gave me a Bible. In September 2010, after reading the Bible, I converted to Christianity and was baptised on 13 May 2011 in Namak Abrud in northern Iran.

2. One week after my conversion, my friend took me to a house-church meeting in Tehran for the first time. There were a few of us who met there each week to pray and praise together, and share testimonies with each other. Over time, we evangelised to other people, especially among the youth. One year after my conversion, my mother got stage 3 breast cancer, but she was healed through prayers. I spoke to my family about Christianity, and meanwhile my family and some of my relatives also converted. 

Arrest and detention

3. I was arrested on 10 November 2015 by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) during a house-church meeting, and charged with “participation in house-church meetings”, and “connection to Christian ministries and Christian theological colleges abroad”. I spent two weeks in solitary confinement in Evin Prison, Ward 209. Then I spent 25 days in different cells with other prisoners. Later I was transferred to Ward 8, where I spent two days in quarantine [where prisoners are held before being transferred or released] and another five days in detention. I was released on bail on 23 December 2015. Nine months later, on 29 September 2016, I left Iran.

4. On Tuesday 10 November 2015, at 9pm, during a house-church meeting, someone knocked on the door. As soon as the door was opened, 10 agents raided the meeting and said that everybody had to lie down on the floor. They told us that they had an arrest warrant and that they were from the Ministry of Intelligence. Of course, they just said that but they didn’t show us the warrant for our arrest, nor for the later house searches, and we were so flustered that we didn’t ask them.

5. We lay on the floor. They asked our names and we introduced ourselves. One of the agents was talking to my friend, Sajjad, and after reading my name, which was written on a list, I was told to sit next to him.

6. At that meeting, only Sajjad, another friend named Mojtaba and I were detained. The other house-church members were released but had to sign commitments that they would no longer attend house-church meetings. At the same time, several other Christians were arrested at other nearby house-church meetings.

House searches

7. They handcuffed all three of us but didn’t search the place where we were. Instead, two agents took me with them to search my home and other agents took my friends with them in different cars to search their homes. They used very offensive language and were very aggressive in their behaviour.

8. But the two agents who came with me were very different from the others and searched my home respectfully. My mother, father, and younger brother, who was then 11 years old, were at home. My brother was asleep at the moment when the agents arrived and they didn’t search the room he was sleeping in. But for about an hour they searched the other rooms. My mother was terribly scared, but the agents weren’t disrespectful in the presence of my parents. 

9. They confiscated my documents, books, textbooks, a box of songbooks and everything related to Christianity, and then took me and my other friends back to the place where they had arrested us.

Evin Prison

10. We were taken, handcuffed, to Evin Prison, Ward 209. First we had to take our clothes off and were given prison clothes. They took pictures of us and took us to the health section, and asked if we were sick or had a history of any particular illness. Then we were each given blankets and taken to individual cells.

11. The first night, I was in a one-person cell, which was relatively large, but the following day I was taken to a small solitary-confinement cell that was only just big enough to sleep in. I had to sleep on the carpet [as there was no bed in the cell]. 

12. The day after our arrest, we were taken to the interrogator’s office at Evin. He showed me the charge sheet: “membership in illegal house-church groups”, and “connection with Christian ministries and theological colleges abroad”.

I hadn’t enrolled with the online theological college mentioned on the charge sheet because I was studying at the university and also busy working at the estate agency, but I know they have written similar things on the charge sheet of many Christians, and only some were actually studying with that particular college.

13. I was in solitary confinement for about two weeks. During that time, about 12 times I was taken, blindfolded, to a room for interrogation, and each interrogation took between one and two and a half hours. I had two interrogators. One of them, called Haj-Agha Hosseini, was in charge and was also present at the time of our arrest. He spoke very insultingly and harshly, but alongside him there was an interrogator who spoke more kindly.

14. During the interrogations, I was given a question sheet and had to answer questions such as: “What are the names of the people in charge of your meetings?” “Which organisation are you cooperating with?” “And who supports you?” Since I had visited Turkey twice to attend Christian seminars, I was also asked about those trips and why I had attended those seminars and what I had done there.

15. They didn’t beat me, but they tortured me with their threats. For example, they said I would be old when I finally got out of jail, and that my younger brother would have grown up. They also said they would soon arrest my family and put them in jail. Being in solitary confinement and also not knowing how long I was going to be in prison made me feel very down.

16. Once, while I was taking a shower, I saw Sajjad from the window of the bathroom. He was taken to the prison yard and I was able to talk with him for a short while, though we didn’t speak for long as we didn’t want to get into trouble. Mine and Sajjad’s cells were in the same hallway, and mine was at the end. When Sajjad was taken to the bathroom, I could see him.

17. After those two weeks, they told me to pack and took me to another cell called a “suite”. The “suite” was actually made from two solitary-confinement cells, but the wall between the two cells had been removed and there was a refrigerator and a TV. There were about four people in each suite. But over the next 25 days, four times I was forced to change to another one. They wanted me to suffer. As soon as I made friends with someone, I had to change suite – and friends. Most of the inmates were there because of financial crimes (embezzlement, bribery, etc.), but around 10 per cent were political prisoners.

18. Sometimes the quality of the food was OK, but sometimes it was so bad that it was inedible. But all the interrogators insisted that the quality of the food was very high and that they controlled the cooking and even ate the same food as the prisoners.

19. After those 25 days, Sajjad and I were taken to Ward 8, which was for prisoners who had already been sentenced. We were held in an isolation cell for two days, and then imprisoned for another five days.

20. I didn’t see my family during this whole time. My mother was successful in getting a permission letter from one of the interrogators to come to visit me. But I told her in a telephone conversation that I was now in quarantine, and that I had found out I would soon be released on bail. So I told her not to come, but to keep the prison permission letter. I thought it would be good to keep the letter as evidence, as prisoners of conscience usually don’t receive any official documents.

Temporary release

21. I was released on bail on Wednesday 23 December 2015, and I was told not to go to university or the university guard would arrest me and send me to prison again. My bail was 200 million tomans [around $60,000 at the time], so my father needed to hand over his property deed from Tehran to cover it.

22. I had decided to flee from Iran, so I didn’t go back to work at the estate agency but managed to get back my father’s property deed. Nine months later, I left Iran, on 29 September 2016.

23. After I had left Iran, a year and a half after my release from prison my mother was handed a summons for the Tehran Revolutionary Court. The hearing was held on 18 June 2017 at Branch 26 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, and later a letter from the court was sent to our home address, informing us that the judge [Mashallah Ahmadzadeh] had sentenced me in absentia to five years of unconditional imprisonment.