Iranian Christians request prayer for Christian converts Ayoub Poor-Rezazade, Morteza Mashhoodkari and Ahmad Sarparast, who are awaiting a verdict after being charged for “deviant propaganda” under Article 500 of the Penal Code.
Ayoub, Morteza and Ahmad were initially arrested at a prayer meeting on 5 September 2021 in Rasht. Arresting agents used force, behaved insultingly, and refused to show warrants. The three were detained in Lakan Prison and released later in September (Ayoub early in October) after each submitting bail of 400 million tomans (about US$15,000).
On 25 January they were formally charged with “engaging in propaganda and educational activities for deviant beliefs contrary to the holy Sharia,” and “connections with foreign leaders.” If found guilty of receiving financial or organisational support from outside the country, the maximum prison sentence for engaging in “deviant propaganda” is increased from five to ten years.
On 17 February the three men appeared in the 2nd Branch of the Revolutionary Court in Rasht. The judge said the case against them was flawed and it should be reviewed by the prosecutor’s office.
However, a couple of days later, they were again summoned to court. It appeared that intelligence officials of the Revolutionary Guard had intervened, rejecting a review of the charges and demanding that they should be sentenced as soon as possible.
Friends of the three men request prayer that:
- The Lord will strengthen and encourage the men and their families
- The Revolutionary Guard will not interfere with the judiciary
- The judge will be able to acknowledge that the faith and activities of the three converts are not a crime and that they will be acquitted