AN IRANIAN Christian pastor, Saeed Abedinigalangashi, has been
sentenced to eight years in prison for "actions against the
security of Iran".
Mr Abedinigalangashi, who is also known as Mr Abedini, was
arrested in September 2012, and his case was heard at the
Revolutionary Court Branch 26 in Tehran on 21 January. Mr Abedini,
who has dual United States/Iranian nationality, is a former Muslim
convert to Christianity.
Mr Abedini's lawyer, Naser Sarbazi, told Mohabat, the Iranian
Christian news agency: "My client was sentenced to eight years in
prison for planting house churches that are intended to undermine
national security." Mr Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, said that her
husband had instructed his lawyer to appeal against the
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said that Mr Abedini's case
was heard by "a notoriously harsh judge. . . There was no public
access to the courtroom, and Mr Abedini had limited access to his
Its director of advocacy, Andrew Johnston, said: "CSW is deeply
concerned by the lack of due process in Mr Abedini's case. There
should be no doubt that while the charges against Mr Abedini are
couched in political terms, in reality these charges stem from his
conversion and from exercising the freedom to worship in communion
"We urge the Iranian authorities to uphold the rule of law,
review the sentence handed down to Mr Abedini, and respect the
principle of freedom of religion and belief."
The Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who faced the death
penalty for refusing to recant his Christian faith (News,
7 October 2011), was released in September (News, 14 September),
after his case drew international attention. Mr Nadarkhani was
taken back into custody on Christmas Day, but released earlier this
The Labour MP Stephen Timms, who is a Christian, wrote on a
political website, Left Foot Forward, last month about a
recent visit to Turkey. Persecution against Christians in Iran, Mr
Timms wrote, "has been stepped up recently. . . The [Iranian]
regime has retaliated against the growth of Christianity with a
concerted propaganda campaign.
"It is strictly forbidden for Christians to share their faith
with Muslims. Churches that reach out to non-Christians have had
leaders executed, and members imprisoned and tortured.
Congregations live under constant threat of arrest and violent