[Middle East Concern] Two Iranian Christians, Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz and Hadi Asgari have been sentenced to 10 years in jail and a third, Amin Afshar Naderi, has been jailed for 15 years. Pastor Victor was verbally charged with "conducting evangelism," "illegal house church activities" and "Bible printing and distribution" among other charges. Amin Afshar Naderi, a convert from Islam, was charged with "acting against national security" and "insulting the sacred" (blasphemy).
The jail terms were imposed by a judge in Tehran following a hearing in June. The men were not in court when the sentences were read out. Their lawyer will appeal against the court's decision.
Pastor Victor, who is of Assyrian background, was seized at his home along with Naderi at a Christmas celebration in 2014. They were subsequently released on bail but Naderi was then re-arrested during a picnic last August along with Hadi Asgari and three others, including Pastor Victor’s son. Hadi Asgari, also a convert, was charged with "acting against national security" and "organising and creating house churches".
Pastor Victor’s son, Ramiel Bet Tamraz, was charged with "acting against national security" and "organising and creating house churches" as well as charges relating to his father's ministry. Pastor Victor's wife, Shamiran Issavi, was summoned by the authorities last month to Evin Detention Centre in Tehran and charged with "participating in foreign seminars" and "acting against Iranian national security" as a church member. She was released after one day on bail of approximately $30,000.
Iranian Christians have requested prayers that the appeal judge will overturn the jail sentences and also acquit Pastor Victor’s wife and son.