: Christians in Iran have urged prayers for fellow believers Saheb Fadaei and Fatemeh Bakhteri after an appeal court upheld their prison terms of 18 and 12 months respectively on charges of “spreading propaganda against the regime,” activists told BosNewsLife.
Both believers are among several detained members of the Church of Iran denomination, one of the most significant evangelical house church movements in the strict Islamic nation.
They were detained in the northern city of Rasht during a house church meeting in late May 2017, Christians said. Later that year the two Christians “were informed of the verdict through their lawyer,” recalled advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC), which closely follows the case.
Fadaei also received two years’ internal exile, MEC added in a statement to BosNewsLife.
An appeal hearing on January 2019 upheld the lengthy prison sentences, but the court ruling was only published now, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
The verdict added to concerns about the plight of Saheb Fadaei, who was already serving another sentence related to his Christian activities in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, the capital.
It also came as a setback for Fatemeh Bakhteri. She was detained along with pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and church members Mohammadreza Omidi and Yaser Mosibzadeh. They were each given 10-year prison sentences for propagating house churches and promoting “Zionist Christianity” in June 2017 by a Tehran court.
Bakherti, 38, was harassed by Iranian security agents for more than a year and interrogated at least once before her sentencing, according to Christians familiar with the case.
Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani remains in jail for activities linked to his faith in Christ.
Pastor Nadarkhani has been in and out of prison for activities linked to his faith. Amid international pressure, Iranian courts acquitted Nadarkhani in 2012 of “apostasy” in a retrial and rescinded the death penalty, allowing him to leave prison.
While the court found him guilty of “evangelizing Muslims,” it credited him with the years he spent in prison and released him on bail. But he was soon detained again as he declined to halt his Christian activities >>>