Four Iranian Christian converts were summoned by the regime’s Judiciary to serve their prison sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison.
According to the Human Rights News Agency, Hossein Kadivar, Khalil Dehghanpour, Kamal Namanian, and Mohammad Vafadar were each sentenced to 5 years of prison for “acting against national security”. The four Christian men were given five days to turn themselves in to Evin Prison on May 28.
The report said that their sentences were confirmed in a February 25 court of appeals without their presence or that of their lawyers. The 28th Branch of the Tehran Revolutionary Court initially sentenced to prison the four Iranian Christian converts along with five other Christians on October 13, 2019.
Hossein Kadivar and Khalil Dehghanpour were detained while attending a religious ceremony in a home church on January 29, 2019, in the northern city of Rasht. Kamal Namanian and Mohammad Vafadar were arrested along with another Christian convert on February 15, in a house church meeting in Rasht.
The four men were later released on bail.
They were all arrested by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Intelligence Department.
According to Iranian law, evangelism, missionary work, and converting to Christianity can be a crime meriting a sentence of more than 10 years imprisonment.
There is officially no crime known as apostasy in the penal code (although there was a law about it prior to 1994). The last known execution for this crime was in 1990. However, despite there being no official civil law of apostasy, judges may still convict a defendant of that crime if they rule based on religious fatwas.
Reports indicate that the distribution of Christian literature in Persian is currently illegal in Iran.
According to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”