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.
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 Tamraz, 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 Tamraz’ 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 Tamraz’ 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.
From Daily Beast:
There are about 150,000 Christians in Iran, mostly Armenians who live in relative peace with the regime. They were born Christians, as Iran sees it, and within limits their rights are respected. They have more than 100 churches.Their patriarch visited in 2014. And they are allowed not only to drink, but to some extent to produce alcohol.
But there are also Christians who worship in what are called “house churches” and are part of congregations that may include large numbers of people who were born to Muslim families and converted to Christianity—people whom the Islamic Republic does not accept and actively persecutes.
Altogether, according to activists, there are about 90 Christians being held in various Iranian prisons. And despite President Hassan Rouhani’s promise during this 2013 election campaign that “all ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice,” the targeting of Christian converts has continued.