Iran: Christian sentenced to ten years in prison on political charges  07/08/2013

Mostafa Bordbar, a Christian convert, has been sentenced to ten years in prison for being part of an “anti-security organisation” and “gathering with intent to commit crimes against Iranian national security”.

The verdict was delivered to his lawyer on 31 July by a Judge from Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, following his trial on 9 June. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has been informed that Mr Bordbar is currently being held in Evin prison.

Mr Bordbar was arrested on 27 December 2012 along with 50 other Christian converts who had gathered to celebrate Christmas in a house in northern Tehran. They were detained, interrogated for several hours and were forced to hand over personal details, including Facebook and e-mail addresses and passwords. Most of the group were released; however, Mr Bordbar and Vruir Avanessian, an Armenian-Christian Pastor, were arrested.

Mr Bordbar had been arrested several years earlier in his hometown of Rasht for converting to Christianity and attending a house church. Branch 1 of the court in Rasht found him guilty of “apostasy” (abandoning Islam), but he was released after posting a bail of 200 million Iranian Rials. Despite this, the conviction of apostasy remained on his record. When Mr Bordbar subsequently attempted to set up a company, he was refused permission on the basis of this criminal record.

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “CSW is deeply concerned at reports of Mostafa Bordbar's harsh sentence. Although he was convicted of crimes of a seemingly political nature, it is clear that as with other Christians who have been recently imprisoned in Iran, this is nothing more than a means of justifying manifestly excessive or unjust sentences. CSW urges the Iranian authorities to release Mostafa Bordbar and all those who have been imprisoned on account of their faith. We also urge the Iranian authorities to ensure that religious minorities are free to exercise their right to adopt any faith of their own choice, a right that is enshrined in the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is party.”

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