Iranian Christians Sentenced to Six Years in Prison

Sunday, October 26, 2014

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

TEHRAN (Worthy News)-- Authorities have sentenced Behnam Irani and two other Christian leaders to six years in prison for their involvement with Iran's underground house churches, according to Morning Star News.

Irani, Abdolreza Ali-Haghnejad and Reza Rabbani -- all leaders of the Church of Iran -- were sentenced Oct. 19 for "action against national security" and "creating a network to overthrow the system". They will now be transferred to prisons in remote regions: Irani will be sent to Zabol Prison on the Afghanistan border while Ali-Haghnejad and Rabbani will go to Minab Prison on a remote island in the Persian Gulf .

The transfers are tantamount to exile to remove the three from any communication networks and family.

"Basically they want to silence them," said Jason Demars, president of Present Truth Ministries. "They want to move them away to a place that is tough to get to -- for their family to get to. With no one on hand to know what is going on, it's easier to mistreat them.

"This prison that Behnam is going to be transferred to is on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, so it's a place that is filled with drug dealers and drug smugglers who are bringing opium into the country over the border of Afghanistan. It's an extremely dangerous place."

The three converts from Islam had originally been charged with "Mofsed-fel-arz" or "spreading corruption on Earth," which carries the death penalty. But those charges were reduced as part of a ploy by the Iranian government to avoid international scrutiny for sentencing the three to six-year prison terms.

"The Iranians are chess players," Demars said. "They always pride themselves that they play chess, so I believe they were bringing these higher-level crimes in order to make it more digestible that they gave a six-year sentence, and also to test the waters on how the international community would respond to these type of charges."