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03/04/2020 Iran (International Christian Concern) – Pastor Matthias Hagnejad found that his five-year prison sentence was upheld after Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamanei, gave the judges reviewing his verdict special permission to bypass court procedures. The sentence was issued after he had been convicted for “acting against national security.”

Pastor Matthias was originally arrested on February 10, 2019 when Revolutionary Guards raided a house church service that he was leading. Eight other church members were arrested around this time as well. Judge Mohammed Moghiseh, who was sanctioned this past December by the U.S. for his role in religious freedom abuses, was the primary lead on their cases. He refused them the opportunity to choose their own legal representation and then transferred them to Evin Prison when they rejected a court appointed lawyer. Each of the eight Christians received a verdict of five years in prison on October 13th.

Iran’s treatment of religious minorities has consistently earned it a reputation of being one of the world’s top abusers of religious freedom. As an Islamic country, Iran’s ruling regime feels threatened by anything that is different from their own interpretation of Islam. Many Iranians reject the regime and Islam. The church in Iran is the fastest growing church in the Middle East, and also one of the most persecuted.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org.