Iran: Pastor Farshid Fathi Malayeri’s six-year prison sentence confirmed following appeal  03/07/2012

Farshid Fathi Malayeri, an evangelical church leader who was sentenced to six years in prison on 5 March 2012, has had his sentence confirmed following an unsuccessful appeal hearing in Tehran last week.

Pastor Fathi Malayeri was detained for 14 months and had his trial postponed several times by judicial authorities, before eventually being tried on 5 March 2012 by a Revolutionary Court in Evin Prison in Tehran. According to Elam Ministries, Judge Salavati convicted him of being the chief agent of foreign organisations in Iran and of administrating funds for foreign organisations, for which he was sentenced to six years in prison. Both the verdict and sentence were upheld on appeal, and he will serve the remainder of his sentence in section 350 of Evin Prison.

The authorities initially arrested Pastor Fathi Malayeri on 26 December 2010 during raids that targeted a large number of Christian citizens and house church members, many of whom were later released after making exorbitant bail payments. However, Pastor Fathi Malayeri remained in prison, where he was held in solitary confinement for over 100 days.   

There are concerns over the lack of due process in Pastor Fathi Malayeri's case. According to Elam Ministries, the pastor's lawyer was deprived of full access to his client's case until a few days prior to the initial court hearing. Furthermore, despite the fact that the pastor's family relinquished the title deeds of their home as bail, he was not released. On one occasion he was told to pack his belongings and was led out to the prison gate, before suddenly being returned to his cell.

Andrew Johnston, Advocacy Director at Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said, "Pastor Fathi Malayeri's illegal detention in the 14 months prior to his case coming to trial, his lengthy stay in solitary confinement, and the lack of due process in his case are wholly illegal and unacceptable. Moreover, as in recent cases involving Christians, the charges against the pastor were couched in political language when in reality he was arrested merely on account of his faith. The ongoing harassment and imprisonment of Christians, Baha'is and other minorities by the regime contravenes international covenants to which Iran is a signatory, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the right to freedom of religion. We urge the Iranian authorities to follow due process and ensure respect for the right to freedom of religion. In addition, we continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of Pastor Fathi Malayeri, Pastor Nadarkhani and others who are unjustly imprisoned or facing execution following flawed judicial processes.

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email kiri@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a human rights organisation which specialises in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all.

For more information, please call 0845 456 5464, email admin@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk