Rash of sentences ‘shows government’s fear of growth of Christianity in Iran’

By World Watch Monitor

Four more Christians received lengthy jail sentences in Iran last week, it has emerged, taking the total number sentenced in the last month to 12.

Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Saheb Fadaie, Mohammad Reza Omidi and Youcef Nadarkhani were each sentenced to ten years in prison. Omidi and Nadarkhani – a pastor who previously served almost three years for apostasy, a charge for which he once faced the death sentence before his release in 2012 – were also sentenced to two years in exile in southern Iran, the opposite side of the country to where their families live. They received their verdicts (dated 24 June) on 6 July, following a hearing on 14 June.

They were each found guilty of “actions against national security”, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which reports that a judge accused their church of receiving £500,000 a year from the British government. Middle East Concerns says they were convicted of “propagating house-churches” and “promoting Zionist Christianity”. Their lawyers have 20 days to appeal and are expected to do so.