12/07/2021 Iran (International Christian Concern) – Nine Iranian Christians who were arrested in 2019 received notice that a high court in Tehran is reviewing their five-year prison sentences. The Supreme Court judges stated in a November 3 announcement, though not released until late in the month, that they did not consider proselytizing and home church establishment to be illegal activities.
The nine Christians, Behnam Akhlaghi, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi, Hossein Kadivar, Khalil Dehghanpour, Mohammad Vafadar, Shahrouz Eslamdoust, Kamal Naamanian and Sayyed Addolreza Ali (Matthias) Haghnejad, are reportedly glad for the potential review of their case. Originally, the nine were arrested and convicted of “endangering state security” and “promoting Zionism”. Their sentences were handed down in September 2019, and their sentences were later upheld in February 2020 without themselves or their lawyers present.
The court review of these cases could set an important precedent for Iranian Christian converts in prison or awaiting trial. Though unclear if they will be released, the hope of a new trial and the boldness of the judges to reject long-standing avenues of persecution for Christians brings encouragement to the local church body.
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