Four believers in Iran have been ordered to begin their prison sentences with immediate effect. Hossein Kadivar, Khalil Dehghanpour, Kamal Naamanian and Mohammed Vafadar were instructed to present themselves at Evin prison in Tehran in order to begin serving their five-year sentences.
The group were arrested by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard in early 2019 during a series of raids on house churches in Rasht. On 24th July 2019, Judge Mohammed Moghisheh, who is known for his anti-Christian bias, called the four men “apostates” and declared that the Bible was "falsified."
The men were ultimately sentenced to five years in prison for “endangering state security” and “promoting Zionism.”
Five other Christians who were arrested at the same time have already begun serving their sentences; amongst them is prominent Iranian church leader, Pastor Matthias Haghnejad.
In response to the prison sentences being announced, CSW’s chief executive Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW condemns the decision to send these innocent men prison. The charges levelled against them are without substance and their trial lacked transparency.
"We urge the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release them, and all others who are currently detained on excessive charges relating to their faith. We also call upon the Iranian administration, as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to lift all restrictions imposed on freedom of religion or belief, and end its criminalisation of Christianity.”