by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - A pastor in Iran who was released from prison while the Iranian Supreme Court reviewed his conviction for “endangering state security” and “promoting Zionism” has been taken back to prison to serve a six-year sentence, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports.
Pastor Addolreza Haghnejad was one of nine Christians sentenced in September 2019 to six years in jail for “acting against the security of the country by forming a group and propagating Christianity outside the church and in the house church and giving information to the enemies of Islam,” ICC reports. The sentences were upheld by a court of appeal in February 2020, without the Christians or their lawyers being present.
However, on December 30 Iran’s Supreme Court decided to release the men while it reviewed the charges against them, ICC said. Then, on January 15 Pastor Haghnejad was arrested and taken back to Anzali Prison to serve his sentence.
There are around 800,000 Christians living in Iran, among a population of more than 84 million people. According to Christian advocacy group US Open Doors, the Iranian government considers the growth of the church to be an effort by the West to undermine Islam and the country’s Islamic regime.
“House groups made up of converts from Muslim backgrounds are often raided, and both their leaders and members have been arrested, prosecuted and given long prison sentences for ‘crimes against national security,’ US Open Doors explains on its website.
The Islamic Republic of Iran ranks nine on the US Open Doors Watch List 2022 of top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.